January 2019

Stroud teenager escapes jail after secretly taking sexual photos

A Stroud teenager who covertly took sexual images of a girl during an ‘online relationship’ with her – and then threatened to publish videos of another girl he met through online gaming – has avoided jail.

Taran Woodward, 18, of Stroud, pleaded guilty at Gloucester crown court on Friday to six sex offences.

He admitted three offences of taking indecent photographs of the same girl between February 2016 and January this year.

Of the 1,360 images taken of the child, Judge Ian Lawrie QC heard that 297 were of the most serious, category A.

Woodward also admitted two charges of making indecent images of a child between the same dates, and finally two allegations involving a different girl of sending a threatening communication on September 20 last year and attempting to incite that girl to engage in a non penetrative sexual act on December 12, 2017.

Prosecutor, Giles Nelson, said Woodward came to police attention in January of last year after a ‘report of uploading indecent images of children’.

After a search of his home address, electronic equipment belonging to him was seized and examined.

It revealed he had been in communication via Skype with a girl who was ‘just shy of a year younger than him’.

The communication started when she was 14, Mr Nelson said.

“At the time he would have been a youth,” the prosecutor explained.

He said that Woodward began capturing images of their Skype chats unbeknownst to the other party.

There were 297 category A images; 231 category B Images and 832 category C.

The prosecutor said there was ‘sexualised chat between them, but she had not given consent to images being captured’.

“She was horrified that he had taken photographs of her,” Mr Nelson said.

“She had placed her trust in him when conversing which had clearly been breached.

“The police had thousands of photographs she had stored on his device. That was very distressing for her.

Turning to the second girl, Mr Nelson said she was 13 when the offences against her started.

“She was an extremely vulnerable child at the time,” he said.

Woodward began communicating with her when she was aged 12.

“In Skype conversations, he asked her to send pictures of her breasts,” the prosecution explained.

“She said not to save them.”

The prosecutor said Woodward made ‘further requests’ for explicit images, but the girl said she ‘is not the person who would do that’ and ‘people get bullied’ as a result of those images.

“She believed she was in a relationship,” the barrister said.

The court heard that the girl did send further explicit images, but later was to try and break up with Woodward.

He then told her ‘he will kill himself, and he will expose her.

“Let’s see how you get a new boyfriend,” the court heard Woodward said. “I am exposing you. I have that video.”

“He told her when they break up he will show everyone her nudes,” the prosecutor said.

The barrister reminded the judge that although Woodward was now over an 18 and an adult, the offending took place when he was a youth.

Imposing a three year community order with a programme requirement, thirty rehabilitation activity sessions and 200 hours of unpaid work the judge said: “You have brought shame on yourself and worse than that shame on your family.

“In these twilight online relationships you took advantage.

“They were vulnerable. I accept you were too, to a degree.

“It is difficult when looking at this adolescent online relationship world to separate fantasy from reality.

“The purpose of the sentence is to teach you some essential life lessons and to respect women.

“Private conversations are to remain private and not for half the world to read.

“If I take the view you are squandering this chance I will send you to custody.”

Woodward was also ordered to sign the sex offender register for five years and to abide by the terms of a sexual harm prevention order for the same time.

December 2018

A Stroud teenager who admitted taking indecent photographs of a young girl has been warned he is facing a prison sentence.

Taran Woodward, 18, of Stroud, pleaded guilty yesterday at Gloucester Crown Court to six sex offences.

Of the 1,360 images taken of the child, Judge Ian Lawrie QC heard that 297 were of the most serious, category A showing the penetrative sexual activity of a child

Woodward also admitted two charges of making indecent images of a child between the same dates, and finally two allegations involving a different girl of sending a threatening communication last year and attempting to incite that girl to engage in a non-penetrative sexual act in 2017.

Prosecutor, James Haskell, said: “It is a sequence of one or two types of activity.”

Judge Lawrie adjourned the case for sentence on January 31 next year and said: “He is looking at custody.

“This easily clears the custody threshold.”

Woodward was granted bail until the next hearing.