July 2018

Man claimed his computer was hacked after child abuse images found

A man caught with images of children as young as five being abused claimed his computer was hacked.

Michael Libbey, 62, repeatedly claimed he had been hacked and that child sexual abuse images had “popped up” on his computer, Teesside Crown Court heard.

“He seemed to accept he had accessed extreme pornographic images,” said prosecutor Rachel Masters on Monday.

“But he seemed not to accept any involvement in downloading of indecent images of children.

“When arrested he immediately informed officers he’d been hacked over the previous year.”

Libbey’s home was searched on November 14, 2016 after Cleveland Police received information that a computer at his address had been used to access images of children.

Officers seized his laptop and found 22 child abuse images.

The children depicted were “as young as five” and a specific search term had been used on the computer, added Ms Masters.

Libbey, of Abingdon Road, Easington, East Cleveland, admitted two charges of making indecent pictures of children which were not at the most serious level in law, and one of possessing extreme pornography.

The Probation Service recommended a community order with safeguarding requirements.

Judge Peter Armstrong told Libbey: “Your laptop was taken and inspected and found to contain these illegal images.

“You claimed that initially your laptop had been hacked. Effectively you were denying accessing this sort of imagery.

“However you had the good sense to plead guilty… albeit at a late stage in the case.

“Even a single image of this nature has a starting point of custody.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that the appropriate sentence is a custodial one but it will be suspended. There is a prospect of rehabilitation in your case.”

Libbey was given a four-month jail term suspended for two years with 30 days’ rehabilitation activity and a sex offender treatment programme.

He was given a sexual harm prevention order governing his internet use and banning him from contacting girls under 16 using a computer, and he will be on the sex offenders’ register, both for seven years.