A man who downloaded thousands of child abuse photos has been spared jail by a judge who admitted she found them repulsive, degrading and disgusting.
Steven Wilmer, 28, of Ashleigh Avenue, Egham, turned himself in to police after he was unable to delete the offending files from a computer, but the court was told he was not mature enough to handle imprisonment.
Wilmer had admitted 10 counts of making an indecent photograph of a child on or before October 17 last year after police found just short of 4,500 images on his computer.
“You have some growing up to do. You are not to do it at the expense of young children,” Judge Suzan Matthews said after she gave him a three-year community order at his sentencing at Guildford Crown Court last Friday (July 5).
Wilmer was deemed not fit for prison, although the judge described the material he downloaded as “repulsive, degrading and disgusting”.
She said if he was to breach the order, he would face a harsher sentence.
The court was told Wilmer was not sexually aroused by the photos, but would get a “buzz” from viewing them late at night when the rest of his household was asleep.
He would search for more and more images of abuse, ranging from the least serious categories to the worst.
Jessica Clarke, prosecuting, said there were 3,895 images of category one – the least serious – 88 of category two, 256 of category three, 253 of category four, and three of the most severe category five images on his computer.
“It is absolutely obvious you became desensitised to the material,” the judge told him.
Police executed a warrant on October 17 at Wilmer’s home, where he lives with his father, after they traced thousands of downloads from a known website to his computer’s IP address.
No arrests were made, but the defence counsel said an “extremely remorseful” Wilmer turned himself in at Staines police station within hours and was extremely co-operative.
Helen Davis, a family friend, told the court she believed Wilmer was “inherently honest”.
Mark Wyeth, defending, asked her about Wilmer’s emotional development.
Mrs Davis replied: “I would say he is a bit young for his age, perhaps.”
Wilmer was put on the sex offenders’ register. He is not allowed unsupervised contact with anyone under 18 and an order was issued for the destruction of his computer.
He must pay £540 in prosecution costs within three months.