October 2017

Married dad’s life unravelled after stolen phone led to discovery of child abuse images

A married dad’s life unravelled after the theft of his phone led to the discovery of his collection of more than 600 child abuse images.

Sean Foley’s secret world was blown wide open when someone walked into Middlesbrough police station and handed in his phone.

The phone, which had been stolen from a jacket in a car, was said to contain an online chat referring to sexual activity with a child, Teesside Crown Court heard today.

The find led officers to 55-year-old Foley’s door, where he said it was his old phone which he had not used in about 18 months.

Police found 620 still and moving child abuse images on the phone and Foley’s laptop, mainly of prepubescent girls aged five to 12.

Prosecutor Harry Hadfield said: “There are many different victims.

“There is evidence the defendant has been searching for indecent photographs of children, so there’s an active involvement in a network that facilitates the creation of indecent images of children.

“There were text messages located which showed that he had an interest in young children.”

A judge heard disturbing descriptions of some of the 140 most serious pictures, examples which involved children aged seven to 11.

Foley, of Chervil, Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough , admitted three charges of making indecent photographs of children.

He also pleaded guilty to possessing a prohibited image – a cartoon drawing of a girl – and possessing 55 extreme pornographic images.

Judge Peter Armstrong told Foley: “These offences are not victimless crimes. People like you who look at these images only encourage those who abuse children to take photographs and movies of them abusing children in this appalling way.”

He agreed to give Foley a chance given his previous good character and insight into his problems.

Foley was given a one-year jail term suspended for two years with a sex offender treatment programme and 35 days’ rehabilitation activity.

He also received a 10-year sexual harm prevention order banning him from contact with under-18s, working with children and governing his use of the internet and related devices. He will be on the sex offenders’ register for the same period.