Crawley father who accessed '˜shocking' indecent images of children spared jail

A father of three from Crawley who pleaded guilty to downloading and viewing '˜shocking' indecent images of children has been spared jail.

Brighton Law Courts
Brighton Law Courts

Damian Stevens, of Chevening Close, Crawley, pleaded guilty to three counts of making indecent images of children and one count of posessing extreme pornography in September.

The 45-year-old appeared for sentencing at Brighton Crown Court today (Friday, October 19).

The court heard that Sussex Police had traced an IP address from which category A indecent images had been uploaded to the internet in May 2016.

Police subsequently executed a search warrant at Stevens’ property on August 1, 2017, and seized his laptop.

Stevens, who had been away on a work related trip, was arrested on arrival at Heathrow Airport the same day and his mobile was seized by police.

At the first interview with police his denied the allegations, the court heard.

His devices were found to contain a total of 47 category A images, 53 category B images and 86 category C images, as well as seven images of extreme porn, said Naomi Edwards, prosecuting.

In a police interview on January 15 he told police he had ‘inadvertently’ downloaded the images, she said.

Police also found evidence elimination software on his laptop, Ms Edwards said.

At a pre trial hearing on Wednesday, June 20, Stevens pleaded not guilty to the offences.

A trial date was set but he later changed his plea to guilty on Friday, September 7.

Daniel Higgins, defending, said: “He knows he has issues and he is addressing these.

“He was in a very dark place and accessed this material, and darker and darker material, there was some sort of thrill to doing that.

“As to why he did it, he doesn’t know...he is not the expert, and he is not best placed to know why he has done that.”

Mr Higgins added that Stevens was willing to engage with help and support.

The impact on Stevens’ family had been ‘dramatic’, Mr Higgins said.

Stevens was the main breadwinner in the family and there was concern his family could lose their home if he was incarcerated, he said.

Recorder Matthew Butt said Stevens was previously of good character, but what police had found on his devices was ‘shocking’.

“These are real children who are being sexually abused in the most horrific ways,” he said, adding that the ‘very young’ age of the children was one of the aggravating factors in the case.

Stevens previous mental health problems were acknowledged as a mitigating factor by Mr Butt, who also said Stevens ‘lacked insight’ into his offending.

Stevens was given a suspended sentence of a total of 20 months.

Mr Butt said the sentence was not custodial because of the impact it would have on Stevens’ family, who he said were ‘all blameless in this’.

“Were it not for the impact on them, you would have gone to prison today,” he said.

“You should consider yourself extremely fortunate.”

Stevens was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work, pay £1,500 in costs and complete a rehabilitation activity.