November 2017

Sex offender ‘carried on searching for child abuse images’ on tablet computers

A sex offender hid computers from police and carried on searching for child abuse images in the face of a court order, a judge was told.

Steven Thomas Maughan, 69, was jailed for a year in February last year for having indecent images of children.

He was given a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) which required him to produce electronic devices for police inspection.

When a detective came to his home on Rutland Court, central Middlesbrough on September 8, Maughan showed his phone.

He falsely denied having any other devices, but the home was searched and two tablets were found – one in a cupboard, one under his settee.

Forensic examination found no indecent images on the machines.

But “there were clearly searches indicative of looking for indecent images”, prosecutor Emma Atkinson told Teesside Crown Court today.

Maughan pleaded guilty to two breaches of the SHPO, adding to a record of 32 offences stretching back as far as the 1970s.

Robert Mochrie, defending, said: “It’s clear that this is a man who needs input and work can be done with him.

“Apart from one occasion in the early 70s where he received a probation order, he’s never had the opportunity of supervision intervention.

“Perhaps society would be better served at this juncture by allowing him the benefit of a suspended sentence order.”

A pre-sentence report said Maughan had gained stability in his life since his release from prison and the risk he posed to the public would be better managed with a suspended sentence.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, told Maughan: “It’s quite clear you have a sexual arousal and gratification from looking at children images.

“Offences of that kind are not free of victims, a point I make regularly at this court.

“The victims are those children who are the subject of those images.

“They are forced into carrying out degrading and dreadful acts for the gratification of people like you.

“You deliberately kept two devices from the police and they were found hidden in your home.

“On one of those devices there was clear evidence you were seeking and had in fact searched the internet for images of children in relation to sexual images.

“It is therefore a very serious case of a very serious breach of the SHPO, so much so that only a custodial sentence can be considered in your case.

“I have to consider whether or not it’s necessary for you to serve that sentence.

“I have stood back from that course for the reasons which have been advanced well on your behalf and what’s said about you in the pre-sentence report.”

Maughan was given a 10-month jail term suspended for 18 months with 35 days’ rehabilitation activity.

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