Paedophile Christopher Stead, of The Poplars, Gravesend, avoids jail
A pervert who downloaded more than 400,000 images and films of children being sexually abused when he was out of work and depressed has walked free from court.
Videos included a young girl crying during her ordeal and a baby “possibly struggling” while being sexually assaulted.
But instead of sending Network Rail employee Christopher Stead to jail, a judge decided a suspended sentence with “strict conditions” could be imposed.
Maidstone Crown Court heard the 30-year-old had not told his employer about the offences and was on annual leave when he appeared in court on Thursday.
Police went to his home in The Poplars in Gravesend after receiving information that an indecent video of a child had been uploaded to the internet.
Prosecutor Robert De Banzie said university-educated Stead initially denied knowing anything about the video.
His laptop computer and tablet were seized and a “very, very large amount” of images were discovered – about 422,000, including 14,000 videos.
Mr De Banzie said Stead faced three “specimen” charges involving 3,500 images and clips of all levels of seriousness and one of possessing extreme images of adults having sex with animals.
After his arrest, Stead, who admitted the offences, said he had used a chatroom where links led to images and videos. Asked what images he looked at, he replied: “All sorts.”
Judge Martin Joy sentenced Stead to 12 months suspended for two years. He will have to attend a sex offenders’ programme and complete 150 hours unpaid work.
He will be under a tagged curfew for four months from 8pm to 5.30am.
His name will appear on the sex offenders’ register and he will be barred from working with children and vulnerable adults.