Police raided Huw Thomas’ home on Trinity Street, Birkenhead , after being tipped off by the shop manager, and discovered he was involved in a cyber chat on his TV with a 15-year-old girl, which was partially hidden by a film playing on the main screen.
The dad-of-one was posing as a teenager and had asked the teen to send pictures of her performing a sex act. A pornographic image was also featured in the chat log.
The girl, whose name cannot be reported, was traced to the Cambridge area and spoken to by police after which the teen admitted sending the messages, Liverpool Crown Court heard.
Electronic equipment at Thomas’ home was seized which revealed he had 320 indecent images of children, 159 in Category B, the second most serious category, 161 in Category C, 46 of which were videos.
Also found were indecent images of a 14-year-old girl taking selfies, while dressed in her school uniform.
One photo showed the same girl topless.
Evidence of a browser cleaner to try and wipe Thomas’ hard drive was also detected, Paul Blasberry, prosecuting, said.
A victim impact statement obtained from the girl, revealed the incident had affected her self-esteem. Her mum said it had turned a “happy young girl unhappy and reclusive”.
Judge Brian Cummings QC jailed Thomas for a total of three years and imposed a Sexual Offences Prevention Order. He said Thomas should sign the Sex Offender’s Register for life.
Thomas had pleaded guilty to three counts of possessing and making indecent images of children and one of inciting a child to indulge in sexual activity.
There was a brief mention of a hotel room being booked for Thomas and the girl to meet and have sex, but that hadn’t been followed up or taken place.
When interviewed by police, Thomas, who has slight learning difficulties, denied being involved in the chat and claimed his computer had been “hacked.”
Also recovered were images of the 15-year-old girl performing a sex act, which Thomas claimed he could not remember, adding that other people had access to his devices.
Thomas, who has no previous convictions and who lives alone, needed an appropriate adult to be with him during his police interviews.
He has a four-year-old daughter, who he sees once a week. He is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance, and was described as having an “isolated and directionless existence.”