May 2019

Ex-Royal Navy serviceman had indecent images on iPhone and shared sexual messages with children as young as EIGHT

A former Royal Navy serviceman has been jailed for distributing indecent images of children.

Stephen Armstrong, 49, of Bentley Street, Cleethorpes, who worked for 18 years in IT, admitted attempting to communicate, for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification children under the age of 16 years and distribution of indecent images.

Grimsby Crown Court heard How Humberside Police raided his Cleethorpes home and seized his iPhone7.

He had hidden two apps to paedophile sites within a calculator app.

Having forensically examined the phone police found a “bombardment”  of messaging he had shared with children as young as eight years old.

Prosecuting Jeremy Evans said: “There was a plethora of messages which amounts to 359 pages (A4) paper. It was constant bombardment of messages which were reciprocated.”

The offences were committed between September 2017 and May last year.

Mr Evans said: “Intelligence was received by Humberside Police from The National Crime Agency which revealed an address from where sexualised conversation had taken place with girls, including some 12 years old.”

He said one of the apps hidden on the phone was Kik messenger and another app from which he contacted children. The prosecutor said the age  of recipients ranged from 12 to 15 years.

He sent adult pornographic images and photographs of his genitalia, as well as engaging in messages of a sexual nature, said Mr Evans.

There were also messages to adults on the subject of sexual abuse of children which he described as “vulgar and depraved.”

He said there were multiple images sent and received worldwide, but mainly to the United States.

One 13-year-old girl was being contacted at regular hours of the day and in the early hours of the morning.

Another was asked “if she liked older men.”

In one message conversation with a 12-year-old girl he offered to meet her in Aldershot and agreed that she could bring along her 11-year-old sister.

Mr Evans said the number of images he distributed was low but two of them were of the worst kind classed as Category A.

For Armstrong, Craig Lowe told the court his client had been “candid and honest” in interviews.

The Cleethorpes man has two children and four grandchildren.

“He is disgusted with himself and had not sought to blame others. He accepts the distress he has caused to his family and friends and the shame he has brought upon them,” he said.

Recorder Abdul Iqbal QC said his behaviour had fuelled the market of worldwide sexual abuse of children and the suffering it causes.

He jailed Armstrong for a total of 26 months and ordered him to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

A Sexual Harm Prevention Order was also imposed which means he cannot be in the company of children under the age of 16 and his use of the internet is restricted and will be monitored by police.