A PAEDOPHILE from North Belfast has been jailed for nine months for possessing nearly 4,000 indecent images and videos of children.
52-year-old Samuel Lawther, of Ashfield Gardens, pled guilty to having child porn stored on his computer.
Belfast Crown Court heard that police seized two laptops and a hard drive when they carried out a planned search of the defendant’s home on January 6, 2011.
When interviewed by police, Lawther admitted storing the files onto his computer and using peer-to-peer websites. He told officers that he had been browsing for images of “children of an older age” and had “stumbled upon” pictures of younger ones.
Lawther’s solicitor said: “My client maintains that he was captivated by the curiosity and gained no gratification from looking at these images. He looked at it as social comfort.”
However, the court heard that Lawther had downloaded and saved a large number of videos and pictures of children as young as two on his computer. Sentencing him last Friday (March 8), Judge Kerr described the files found on Lawther’s computer as “repugnant”.
“A measure of the seriousness of this offence is the sheer volume of images and movies,” said Judge Kerr.
“It’s clear that the children involved in these images would have suffered significantly as a result. By downloading this material, you are providing a market, which ultimately encourages this kind of abuse.
“There’s no doubt that downloading these images causes yet more suffering to the children concerned.”
It was also pointed out that the defendant had printed out 16 still images of a two-year-old baby girl.
Lawther, who came to court with a packed bag, sat emotionless in the dock as the judge read his sentencing statement.
Judge Kerr continued: “It is clear from the pre-sentence report that the defendant has not yet acknowledged his problems. It is clear that this case needs to be treated with the seriousness it deserves.
“The manner in which the images were stored on the computer shows a considerable level of interest and that you were looking to archive the files. This was a mature man aware of what he was doing and who committed the offences over a long period of time. The age of the children involved is also a contributing factor in the seriousness of this case.”
Lawther was given a two year prison sentence, nine months of which must be served in custody. He will serve the remainder on licence. Judge Kerr highlighted to the court that existing law determined the sentence. Lawther was also banned from working with children and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register.