Convicted child abuser was taking photos of children outside schools and parks in Warwick
A convicted child abuser who had been using his phone to take pictures of children outside Warwick schools and in parks has had his prison sentence extended and been branded a “danger” by a judge.
Steven Cook, 36, of Lakin Road, Warwick, had pleaded guilty to three charges of making indecent images of children, three of distributing images and also admitting being in breach of a sexual offences prevention order. And Warwick Crown Court heard that as well as having indecent images, Cook had worryingly been using his phone to take pictures of children around the town.
After ruling that he poses an on-going risk to children, a judge gave him an extended prison sentence and ordered him to register as a sex offender for life.
He was jailed for four years, of which he will have to serve at least two-thirds before the Parole Board considers his release.
He will only be freed before serving the whole term if it is considered safe to do so, and will be on licence for the rest of the sentence and for a further four years – during which he can be recalled to prison if his behaviour gives cause for concern.
Explaining the background to the case, prosecutor Rebecca Wade said that in 2006 Cook had been jailed for 12 months for indecent assault and gross indecency with a 13-year-old girl.
As a result, he had also been ordered to register as a sex offender for ten years, but he failed to comply with the registration requirements on three occasions.
He was dealt with for that in 2013 when magistrates also made him subject to a sexual offences prevention order under which he was banned from having unsupervised contact with children.
As a convicted sex offender Cook was monitored by a police offender manager who would visit him at his home. On one unannounced visit in February this year, after a general chat, and the officer then asked to see his mobile phone.
But as Cook picked it up to hand it over, he tried to delete something from it.
The officer took the phone from him and saw an image of a girl in her very early teens in a low-cut dress, and online chat with girls as young as five, some referring to him as ‘daddy.’
Cook was asked if he had another phone, and claimed he did not, but a second one was found and seized, together with a laptop computer, a tablet and a number of memory cards.
He denied that he was sexually attracted to children, and although he accepted recording images of children outside schools and in parks in Warwick ‘on average once a day,’ he said they were not indecent.
Cook agreed that, in breach of the sexual offences prevention order, he had formed a relationship with sisters aged eight and 13 in Canada, taking part in unsupervised online chat with them several times a day.
He claimed that apart from what was on that phone, his other devices and the memory cards were ‘clean.’ But on them police experts found a staggering 1,195 still images and 340 movies classed as being in category A, showing penetrative sexual activity with children.
There were many involving the rape of pre-pubescent children, and even included young babies being forced to perform sex acts on adult males, said Miss Wade.
There were also 1,037 stills and 182 movies in category B, of children involved in non-penetrative sex acts, and 3,563 stills and 118 movies in category C, showing children in naked or indecent poses.
And in addition, there was evidence that Cook had shared one of the category A images and two category C images with other participants on chat sites, Miss Wade added.
Eugene Hickey, defending, conceded: “The view of the pre-sentence report author is that at this moment in time he presents a high risk of serious harm to children.
“He clearly has a problem, but it’s noteworthy that since his police interview he’s moved on from being reluctant to accept he found children sexually attractive to accepting in the pre-sentence report that he does. That is an important first step.”
Jailing Cook, Recorder Steven Evans told him: “You have, as you yourself now admit, a sexual interest in children. “It is important to understand the nature of that interest, because what I want to explain to you is that because people like you have sexual interests in children, children somewhere in the world are sexually abused and filmed. “We don’t know who those children are.
Some of them, even if we did know, are too young to speak about the consequences of this abuse that’s filmed because of your interest. “Somebody, somewhere in the world, took a baby and filmed oral sex with it so that people like you could gain sexual gratification.
“Those children all exist somewhere in the world, and are living with the trauma of that abuse. That is the harm that’s done.
“Right it is that you have taken a very important first step, in that you have acknowledged you have a sexual interest in children.
“Until someone takes that step, no work can be done with them, but you remain a very high risk of re-offending, a high risk to children.”