A man who was found with hundreds of child abuse images told police it was a hobby like trainspotting or butterfly collecting.
Christopher Newman claimed to have no sexual interest in children but said he was lured by the thrill of doing something illegal and collecting more images. He later rang officers to confess that he accessed the material as a way of coming to terms with being the victim of abuse by a teacher when he was aged 11. Newman is a married father but has not been allowed to live with them since shortly after his arrest 18 months ago.
He was traced by police acting on a tip-off from the National Crime Agency and found with more than 1,100 child images, many in encrypted galleries or vaults. Newman, aged 64, of Victoria Street, Okehampton, admitted three counts of making (by downloading) indecent images of children and was ordered to do 40 days of rehabilitation activities under a three year community order.
He was also put on the sex offenders’ register and made subject to a five-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order by Judge Stephen Climie at Exeter Crown Court. The order allows police to monitor his online activity. The judge told him: ”I accept that your remorse is genuine and that you understand now how serious this is. You should appreciate that, not least with regard to what happened to you when you were young.”
Miss Felicity Payne, prosecuting, said police raided Newman’s home and seized phones and computers which contained accessible and inaccessible images, some of which had been moved onto other devices. Some were stored in gallery vaults and titles showed some involved boys aged about ten being abused by adult men. Others showed children as young as two.
There was evidence he used masking software when accessing file sharing sites and had searched the internet for ways to hide files. He admitted downloading the material when he was interviewed for the first time, saying he got a thrill out of looking for more extreme material. Miss Payne said: “He said it was the thrill of doing something illegal and it was like trainspotting, stealing cookies from a jar, or collecting butterflies.
“He said he would have a rush to the head and then realise it was wrong and would stop for a while and give himself a good lecture. He became embarrassed and uncomfortable when asked about searching for images of boys and said he was heterosexual.”
Miss Rachel Smith, defending, said Newman had never told anyone about the abuse he suffered at the hands of a teacher until he was arrested for these offences. Social Services came to his house three weeks after his arrest and insisted that his wife and daughter move out to a secret address. He has only seen them remotely, in supervised visits or public spaces ever since. She said he has been suspended from his job and told he is likely to be dismissed as a result of this case.