April 2013

Convicted paedophile dealt community order for downloading indecent images of children


A PAEDOPHILE with a previous conviction has been given a community order for downloading indecent images of children after he said he wanted to change his ways. At the sentencing of 55-year-old Steven Birchall, pictured, Dorchester Crown Court was told that he wanted help to put an end to his sexual attraction to children.

Birchall, of Ferrybridge Cottages, Weymouth, admitted 28 counts of downloading indecent images which were found on hard drives at his home during police raids. Over 3,000 images were seized when officers checked up on Birchall upon his release from prison in 2011. He had previously been sentenced to 12 months in prison after admitting 30 charges of making indecent images of children – ranging from toddlers to teenagers. Indecent images are rated on a scale from one to five, with five being the most serious.

Prosecutor Jennie Rickman said that of the images found this time round 2,393 were level one, 163 grade two images, 145 at level three, 283 at level four and nine grade five images.

Although Birchall admitted downloading the images, he said all except four had been downloaded whilst he was awaiting sentence for the previous conviction.

Of these, three were level one images and one level three.

Birchall, who admitted being sexually attracted to children, was ordered to attend the Thames Valley Sex Offender Groupwork Programme.

He was described in court as a ‘socially isolated person without very many fri-ends.’ Birchall was given a three-year community order and a Sexual Offences Prevention Order subject to any further order. He is already on the sex offenders’ register but will remain so for a further five years.

In mitigation, Lee Christmas, said Birchall now wants to stop his paedophilia.

Sentencing, Judge Jarvis, said: “You are described as a socially isolated person without very many friends or contacts with whom you share your daily existence.

“There seems to be some suggestion that you really now understand that this sort of behaviour needs to stop and you need to change your ways. These are innocent little children.

“Not innocent now, unfortunately. Their innocence is lost because someone has forced them to participate to provide images for people like you. There is any number of young children throughout the world being abused.”


Claude Knights, director of Kidscape, said that often when jail terms are imposed, the rehabilitation programme offenders undergo is not coherent or successful.

She said the Thames Valley Sex Offender Groupwork Programme is mandatory and hopes it will help Birchall stop these ‘abhorrent’ crimes.

She added: “The trouble is that when offenders don’t get a coherent rehabilitation behind bars, they don’t change their behaviour so they come out, do something bad, go back to prison again, are released and so on.

“I think it is one in four prisoners are re-offenders and so they have failed to be rehabilitated in custody and that is something the probation service needs to look at.”

She added: “The Thames Valley Programme is robust, it’s totally mandatory and completed with ongoing mentoring.

“The main aim is to protect children, to make the offender see what they have done.”

October 2010

Weymouth paedophile had almost 10,000 child abuse images

A PAEDOPHILE who downloaded almost 10,000 pictures of indecent images of children has been jailed.

Steven Birchall, aged 53, of Ferrybridge Cottages, Weymouth, was sentenced to 12 months in prison after admitting 30 charges of making indecent images of children – ranging from toddlers to teenagers.

The charges related to a total of 9,637 images and 348 movies that were discovered after police raided Birchall’s home and seized his computer.

The images and movies were graded, as is normal practice in this type of case, with level five being the most serious and level one the least serious.

Clifford Grier, prosecuting, said 206 of the images and 190 movies were at level four, while 15 images and eight movies were level five.

Judge Roger Jarvis told Birchall he needed to consider the impact the production and distribution of the images, which featured children of a very young age, had on the victims.

He told the defendant: “It is a matter of horror, when one looks at these images, to see just how very young some of the people were.

“The court really needs to make sure that if any other person is tempted to behave as you, they realise that they risk being caught and on being caught are going straight to custody.”

Mr Grier said Dorset Police executed a warrant at Birchall’s address in March 2008, after he had been brought to the attention of a Metropolitan Police operation to identify subscribers to websites containing child abuse images.

Mr Grier said: “Whilst police were searching the premises he volunteered to them, to make life easier, that the computer the police were looking for was in the back room and also handed over a hard drive.”

Police also seized a computer tower, memory sticks, floppy discs and Visa cards the defendant had used to purchase indecent material online.

Mr Grier said the computer was analysed and the images and movies were found.

In interview with police Birchall fully admitted downloading the images but claimed he had not paid for any material.

Mr Grier added: “He stated that he had started looking at images when he first purchased the computer 10 years ago and at first was looking at adult porn but in the last two years or so he had started looking at children.”

Birchall admitted to police that he did get sexual gratification from looking at the images.

Tim Shorter, mitigating, told the court that Birchall had been frank and co-operative with police and had had the proceedings hanging over him for the last two and a half years.

He added: “It is almost tempting to say this is a typical case of a rather lonely man who started to look at adult porn and was drawn into younger and younger images, which he did find sexually interesting.”

Judge Jarvis said that Birchall would also be placed on the sex offenders’ register for a period of 10 years.