August 2010

South Oxhey paedophile handed suspended sentence

A PAEDOPHILE from South Oxhey who distributed child pornography online has escaped an immediate custodial sentence.

Former teacher Simon Webb, 39,sent the indecent images and films of boys being abused via his computer in such a way they could dodge ‘firewall’ software designed to block them, St Albans Crown Court heard yesterday.

The 39-year-old, who briefly taught science at Townsend C of E School in St Albans, several years ago, pleaded guilty to a total of 25 charges of making, distributing and possession of indecent images of children.

Webb was arrested in July after police executed a search warrant at his home.

Officers seized a Packard Bell computer and USB memory stick, from the manager of Tesco in Radlett, on which were stored sickening images of young boys being abused.

More than 1,300 images were uncovered, a number depicting level four offences against children on a scale of one to five.

The vast majority were of level one in the abuse scale, but one file, which Webb claimed not to have viewed, was level five, the most serious.

prosecutor Geoffrey Porter said: “The charges arise from the examination of his computer and what he admitted during the course of the interview.

“He was entirely cooperative with police and made full admissions.

“He said he had owned his computer for five years and had been doing this over two years, therefore these are specimen charges.

“The first three charges refer to distribution and there appeared to be a certain degree of sophistication as they were sent in a Word document.

“That has the effect of potentially being the sort of document that won’t be picked up by firewalls in computers.”

Webb had no previous convictions.

Sentencing guidelines state a prison sentence of up to three years should be imposed for those convicted of distributing child pornography.

Ruth Jones, defending, asked the judge not to jail her client, as the distribution crimes did not form the majority of the charges against him.

Judge Stephen Gullick was handed several character references and told Webb would comply with any community order imposed.

Judge Gullick sentenced Webb to 12-months’ prison, suspended for two years and ordered him to take part in the Thames Valley Sex Offenders Programme during three years’ supervision by probation.

He was made subject of a SOPO (Sex Offences Prevention Order) banning contact with anyone under 16 without the presence of their parent or guardian.

The order will run until he is aged 60.

Webb must sign the sex offenders’ register for ten years, and was warned breaching the orders could lead to prison.

Judge Gullick said: “The most serious, without question is the distribution of indecent images of children.

“But the fact you pleaded guilty and your previous good character means I can suspend the prison sentence.”