January 2019

Scarborough man shared nearly 2,500 child abuse photos and videos with other paedophiles

A paedophile has been jailed for three-and-a-half years for downloading and distributing thousands of photos and videos depicting the serious sexual abuse of children – some as young as four.

David Hughes, 54, of Albion Road, Scarborough, downloaded the vile material after scouring the internet for child sexual abuse images, York Crown Court heard.

He then shared some of the images online with other paedophiles by using “peer-to-peer” file-sharing software, said prosecutor James Gelsthorpe.

Police swooped on Hughes’s home in October 2017 and seized computer equipment including a laptop, iPad and hard drive.

Forensic analysis of the devices revealed a “large quantity” of indecent images involving the extreme sexual abuse of children between four and 12 years old.

“Several of these files which had been downloaded were available to be accessed by other users (of the file-sharing programme) and were accessed by other users,” added Mr Gelsthorpe.

There was “the potential for a large volume of viewers, in particular the millions of people who use the peer-to-peer software”, said the barrister.

The 2,491 files included 324 child-abuse photos and 89 videos rated Category A – the worst kind.

Three of the files, stored on Hughes’s hard drive, had even been “categorised by (the defendant) and placed in specific folders identifying the nature of the images and videos that are depicted”.

As well as child sexual abuse images, police also found an extreme-porn image involving an adult and a dog.

Hughes was arrested and charged with three counts of possessing or making indecent images, three counts of distributing illegal images and one count of possessing an extreme pornographic image.

He admitted all charges and appeared for sentence via video link on Friday after being remanded in custody.

The court heard that Hughes had been downloading the material between February and October 2017, and he had a previous conviction for “multiple offences” of making indecent images of children, which also resulted in a jail sentence.

He had started re-offending just a few months after his prison licence expired following his first spell behind bars.

Jailing Hughes for 41 months, judge Andrew Stubbs QC told him: “You actively searched out indecent images of children of the most serious kind on the internet.

“You then posted them on peer-to-peer file-sharing software, which meant they were available for a large number of other people to access. This, given your background, is very serious indeed.”

The judge said Hughes’s “systemic searches” for child abus images showed that the defendant “couldn’t stop” himself scouring the web for illicit material.

He said a long jail sentence was inevitable because of the age of the children depicted in the sordid sex scenes and the fact that there was a large number of severely-distressed young victims.