A FORMER city charity volunteer has admitted downloading more than 1,700 images of child pornography, including some of the worst possible – after reporting his own suspicions about a website.
Former Salvation Army volunteer Russell Wyatt, 27, of Okehampton Road, St Thomas, was given eight months in prison, suspended for two years, at Exeter Crown Court.
Wyatt must attend a rehabilitation programme for internet sexual offenders as part of his sentence.
He pleaded guilty to ten offences of making indecent photographs of children and one of possessing them.
His defence counsel said that police investigated Wyatt partly because he reported that there were “inappropriate images” on a website he had been using.
The court heard he had been doing voluntary work for various organisations, including the Salvation Army, although none were involved in these offences.
Prosecutor David Gittins said Wyatt had registered, using false details, with an internet site, and then downloaded the images, around two years ago.
Police became suspicious about his use of the website and searched his home, seizing a laptop. Forensic tests showed there were 1,785 images of child pornography including 153 at level five and 480 at level four, the two worst categories.
He had also downloaded images graded at all the other categories, which start at level one.
He initially made no comment when he was interviewed by police.
Defence counsel Sean Brunton said Wyatt had never distributed or shared the images with anyone else.
Mr Brunton said the defendant had a difficult childhood and had worked in the voluntary sector since he was 16.
“He’s disgusted with himself, he has to bear the shame of what he’s done,” said Mr Brunton.
He said: “Mr Wyatt had at some stage indicated to the website that he was downloading from that there were inappropriate images there.
“His name came up on a crime reference number, which partly led police to come to speak to him.”
Mr Brunton said: “He is really a pretty lonely, sad and confused character who, as of now, is left with nothing for him.”
Judge Wassall initially considered a prison sentence as he was concerned that Wyatt was still refusing to accept the extent of his offences.
The judge retired to consider his decision but then said that he would follow the recommendation of the pre-sentence report.
He told Wyatt: “If you breach this order, by failing to respond as your supervising officer expects, you will be back before the court and back before me as I reserve any breaches to myself.”
The defendant was also put on the Sexual Offender Register for a decade and given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for five years.
Judge Wassall ordered that the computer equipment be destroyed.