August 2003

Man jailed over child porn find

A sex beast is starting four years in jail after he was snared by new technology.

Hartlepool man Peter Hindmarch, 43, was captured after Home Office pathologist Dr James Sunter examined a photograph of his scarred right hand.

The pathologist compared the image to one of Hindmarsh which was seized by police when they raided his home. It showed the same scarred hand molesting a young girl.

Delighted police – who reacted after Hindmarsh was jailed at Teeside Crown Court – say it is the first time such technology had been used to bring a suspect under the worldwide Operation Ore inquiry into paedophiles to justice. It was also the first time the technology had been used in the North East.

The photograph which was seized was just one of hundreds of images found on Hindmarsh’s computer equipment.

Crown court judge Peter Bowers said almost 30 per cent of these pictures were in the two most serious categories of child porn.

Judge Bowers told Hindmarsh he had taken advantage of a young girl, indecently assaulted her and made a record of her.

He ordered Hindmarsh, of John Howe Gardens, to register for life as a sex offender and to take part in a sex offenders treatment programme for four years once he is released from his prison sentence.

Prosecutor Shaun Dodds told the court police involved in the national Operation Ore investigation into child porn on the Internet were led to Hindmarsh after he used credit cards to access child porn websites costing $30 a time.

Police raided Hindmarsh’s then home in Ivy Grove, Hartlepool, last October and seized a large quantity of computer equipment containing 483 images on floppy disks, hard drives and a digital camera.

They forced open Hindmarsh’s heavy padlocked bedroom in his parents home, and collected CD roms, digital camera, credit cards and 49 floppy disks of which 18 contained indecent images of children.

One image taken in February 1998 showed a small girl asleep on a bed with a hand, later identified to belong to Hindmarsh, over her private parts. Further examination of the computer found other images showing a serious sexual act against a child.

Nine images created in October last year, shortly before the police raid, also showed a young child asleep on a bed.

Martina Connolly mitigating, said Hindmarsh was not like other such offenders who refuse to accept they have done anything wrong.

“He is beginning to come to terms with his own weaknesses for child pornography and where it has got him today.

“He is coming some way forward to accepting culpability and accepting the seriousness of what he has done.

“He has a great deal more of his journey to go.”

The court heard Hindmarsh, a plant operator, had led a relatively blameless existence, worked hard, lived at home and had a good family relationship before this occurred.

Hindmarsh has earlier pleaded guilty to 16 offences of making indecent images of children, two of taking indecent photographs of a child and one of indecently assaulting a young child.

Detective Sergeant Stuart Malcolm, of Cleveland Police, said: “Through our investigations we have rescued one child and highlighted the possible risk to other children that this man posed.”