November 2010

No jail for grandad who downloaded indecent images of children

A GRANDAD who downloaded over 1,000 indecent images of children during a “traumatic” period of his life has been spared jail.

John Thomas Hodgson, 51, pleaded guilty to 16 counts of making indecent photographs of children between March 2001 and December 2009.

Officers raided Hodgson’s family home on Downfield Way, New Marske on December 2 last year, Teesside Crown Court was told yesterday.

An analysis of Hodgson’s hard drive found 1,117 indecent images of children – 1,072 in the least serious category and none at the worst level, prosecutor Jo Kidd said.

Graham Brown, defending, told the court that Hodgson’s wife was diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago.

He said this was a traumatic period in the nervous man’s life and he was determined in supporting his wife.

He added most of the images were downloaded last year, during which Mrs Hodgson suffered a nervous breakdown.

He said Mr Hodgson was also under financial strain at the time, helping his 29-year-old daughter with £36,000 legal costs for divorce and injunction proceedings after a violent marriage, and he was made redundant.

He said the family was under a lot of pressure due to the criminal court proceedings.

Mrs Hodgson was in court and submitted a letter in support of her husband.

Mr Brown said all but 29 of the images had been deleted and weren’t accessible to Mr Hodgson, and the majority were of clothed teenagers “at the more mature end”.

He said there was no suggestion Mr Hodgson distributed or paid for images.

Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Peter Fox QC, said: “You pleaded guilty to a number of offences of making indecent photographs of children. You did that over a period of years.

“But having regard to your personal circumstances which I judge are important in this case, I judge that you would not have done that sort of thing but for the factors set out in the probation officer’s report.

“And so there’ll be no prison sentence in this case, not even a suspended one.

“I take the view that this is out of character for you and you can learn a better way and put it behind you.”

Hodgson, who had no previous convictions, was given a two-year community order with supervision and a programme requirement.

He will be on the sex offenders’ register for five years.