September 2013

Child abuse images addict, avoids jail by a ‘whisker’

A child abuse images addict who downloaded thousands of abuse images over four years was told by a judge that he had avoided a jail sentence by a “whisker.”

Glen Cawston, 37, of Byewaters, in West Watford, searched the internet for sexual pictures and movies of 12, 13 and 14 year old girls, but St Albans crown court heard on Friday that some of the victims were aged only three or four.

Prosecutor Peter Shaw said the police went to Cawston’s address with a search warrant at 7am on August 21 last year.

Cawston answered the door. At first he denied accessing indecent images of children from the internet, but later told an officer in his kitchen that there were some on his laptop. His laptop, hard drives and Blackberry phone were examined.

In court he pleaded guilty to a total of 12 charges of making and possessing indecent images and movies of children ranging from Level 1, the least serious, to Level 5, the most serious level.

There were 1,958 Level 1 images and 31 Level 1 movies; 503 Level 2 images and 10 Level 2 movies; 370 Level 3 images and 44 Level 3 images; 1,075 Level 4 images and 171 Level 4 movies; 100 Level 5 images and 7 Level 5 movies.

He had no previous convictions.

When questioned by the police he said he had been looking at child sex abuse images for about four years since he had moved in with his partner.

“He said he couldn’t say how it started. He just started accessing them. He said he got them from file sharing facilities he used to get music and films. He would put in search terms such as ‘teens’,” said the prosecutor.

Phillipa Ellis, defending, said since his arrest Cawston had been diagnosed by a psychiatrist as suffering from depression and having a border line personality disorder. She said he would benefit from treatment on the Thames Valley Sex Offender Programme.

She said he earned £30,000 a year in his job but had debts of £10,000.

Cawston had written to the judge saying he would never see him again.

Judge Andrew Bright QC told him: “You have missed going to prison by a whisker. Locking you up is what the public, no doubt, wishes me to do as this behaviour is so repulsive.

“This has been your secret, but that is now out. Locking you up is only a short term advantage but doesn’t help with the long term problems you have with your addiction to child pornography.

“If your underlying obsession to be cured it is not going to be done by locking you up in prison with a whole collection of paedophiles. The Thames Valley Sex Offender Programme has a very high degree of success.”

Cawston was given a three year Community Order with conditions that he is supervised by probation officers for three years and must attend the Sex Offender Programme. He was banned from accessing the internet unless the computer’s history use can be displayed.

He must also pay £800 costs. The computer drives and laptop seized by the police are to be forfeited by Cawston.