May 2019

Paedophile with hundreds of ‘cruel’ abuse images claims he was trying to watch ‘feature film’

A paedophile caught with hundreds of indecent images of children claimed he thought he had downloaded a “cinema feature film”.

Police raided Benjamin Nicholson’s Bransholme home after receiving information from the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, Hull Crown Court heard.

Charlotte Baines, prosecuting, said it related to the use of two Google email addresses, which both began “BigBenNic”.

The first was found to have uploaded a category B indecent video at 6.32am on September 9, 2017. This was linked to an address Nicholson, 34, used to share with his mother.

The second was linked to a Facebook profile, with further inquiries leading officers to Nicholson’s home, which they visited on May 23 last year, seizing a computer tower and two USB sticks.

Nicholson’s mobile phone was also seized at Clough Road police station, where he denied any knowledge of uploading the indecent video. Indecent images were discovered on the phone and computer, with the latter found to have had anti-forensic software installed on it, which was used to “clean” the computer.

File names including “PRAR Lolitas” were also discovered, as was use of the word “onion”, which Miss Baines said was “known to be a term used when accessing the dark web”.

This was through browsers which anonymised the user’s activity. Files with the name “onion” were also on the memory sticks.

When Nicholson was interviewed, “He stated the images had come from a torrent file he had downloaded. He thought it was a cinema feature film but opened it and there were indecent images there. He then deleted them”. Nicholson said this had happened on “two or more occasions”.

He also claimed the phone and computer “must have synced”. This prompted to police to conduct further forensic examinations – which revealed “completely different” images on the phone to those on the computer, “so there was no syncing”, Miss Baines said.

In total, Nicholson had 22 indecent images at category A – the most serious – 35 at category B, and 665 category C images. He admitted three offences of making indecent photographs of children between April 29, 2017, and May 24 last year. He had two previous convictions, but not for similar offences.

Recorder Ben Nolan QC said that in his interview with the probation service, Nicholson effectively claimed “this was all a big mistake, but then again he’s pleaded guilty”. But his barrister, Paul Genney said: “I’ve had a conference with him – that was the whole point – and he is not saying that now, of course.”

Sentencing Nicholson to a three-year community order, the judge told him: “Some people will say these are victimless crimes; they are not, because the children made to pose for these images are the subject of cruelty, and people like you who get their sexual kicks from looking at these images contribute to that cruelty.”

Nicholson and was made subject to a sexual harm prevention order for five years, and must register as a sex offender for the same period. He must also attend the Horizon programme, and have up to 40 days of rehabilitation.