Oct 2011

Paedophile, 58, snared by teenage car thieves who handed his laptop to police after finding stash of child porn

An unemployed social worker has been jailed after the teenage burglars who stole his car found child porn on his laptop and handed it in to police.

The sequence of events which led to the arrest of 58-year-old Keith Smith began when the burglars broke into a house where he was staying, took his car keys and driven off in his vehicle.

When the burglars looked at the computer left in the car, they were so ‘spooked’ by its contents that they passed it to an adult to give to the police, Manchester Crown Court heard.

The burglary remains unsolved and the youths have never been identified. The ‘go-between’ was not linked to the crime.

Raids were then carried out at a series of addresses linked to Smith which turned up 15,000 child porn images, as well as a photo of a dog being abused by a woman.

Smith, who is from Levenshulme, a suburb of Manchester, was arrested and later admitted 18 sample charges of downloading indecent and extreme images.

Kate Hammond, prosecuting, told the court that in September 2009 a man had walked into a police station and handed in an external hard drive, two pen drives and five memory cards, which he said had been stolen in a burglary.

Ms Hammond said: ‘The man concerned indicated he had been given the items by youths. They had been spooked by the contents and felt he must hand them into police.’

The court heard that since his arrest he has attended a treatment programme to overcome his obsession.

Vincent Deane, defending, said that Smith was ‘truly ashamed’ of what he had done and he had tried to deal with the problem rather than deny it, showing ‘genuine remorse and regret’.

But judge Robert Atherton said the law required him to send Smith to jail.

Sentencing him to 12 months in prison, the judge said: ‘It’s fair to point out that this is an unusual offence so far as you are concerned, in the sense that there’s nothing in your antecedents or way of life to suggest you ever carried out of the acts you viewed.

‘You are not a person who has a history of being a paedophile or predatory towards teenage or younger children.

‘You have a previous good character. I hope that when you are released you will continue to address the problem.’

Smith has also been made subject to a sexual offences prevention order, which places his internet use under certain conditions. He must also sign the sex offenders’ register.