A Canterbury university student tried to kill himself twice – after being arrested for downloading sick sex images of children.
Benjamin Porter, 24, used the internet to access nine-and-a-half hours of vile movies – as well as more than 800 images including the worst level 5.
But despite typing in “PTHC”, which stands for ‘pre-teen hard core’ and “Lolita”, the English student claimed he had no sexual interest in young children.
Porter, of Merchant Way, Canterbury, claimed he had been testing himself to discover if he had paedophile tendencies.
Prosecutor Jim Harvey told Canterbury Crown Court how Essex Police had tracked Porter’s on-line activities and alerted officers in Kent.
Police from the Child Exploitation Unit raided Porter’s home which was then in Shalmsford Street, Canterbury in March last year and he immediately admitted he was responsible for the illegal activity.
Porter said that for three years he had been “actively search for and finding” child abuse images using file sharing programmes – and downloading images of children aged between four to 18 years.
Mr Harvey added: “He told officers that he did not believe that he was sexually attracted to children.
“He also said that he had put erotic images onto a memory card in an effort to wean himself off the more hardcore and really dark images.”
Kerry Waitt, defending, said a senior psychiatrist believed Porter’s offending was the product of his depression and low self-esteem.
“He has already suffered punishment and has made two genuine attempts on his life, initially following his arrest and soon after he was charged. They were not cries for help.
“That shows just how ashamed he felt.
“He also suffered humiliation and embarrassment when his flatmate found out about the criminal proceedings and he had to move out.
“He was then dismissed from his employment and suspended from his university placement.”
Judge Heather Norton gave Porter, who admitted eight offences of downloading illegal images, a 12-month jail sentence suspended for two years.
She told him: “You say you looked at this material to help alleviate feelings of stress but there is also an indication that you looked at these images because you wanted to – and was actively seeking them out.
“From your own lips you have admitted that you were concerned that you might be a paedophile and you might have a sexual interest in children and so you were testing yourself out by looking at this kind of material.
“The fact you have also said you have a genuine fear that you might hurt someone causes me a great deal of concern in handling any future risk (you may pose).”
Porter was told he had to sign the Sex Offender’s Register for 10 years, given a Sex Offences Prevention Order and told he can’t work with children.
He will also be supervised by probation officers for the next 15 months.