February 2015

Man avoids jail for child abuse images

A MAN avoided jail despite down-loading more than 1,000 indecent images of children.

Lionel Heales, 64, of Estuary Gardens, Great Wakering, admitted making 1,135 images, which fell into all three categories of severity.

Heales was sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for two years yesterday at Basildon Crown Court.

It emerged in court Heales formerly worked with children as a volunteer with the Dangerous Wild Animals Rescue Facility in Great Wakering, but police said they had no evidence to suggest he had abused any children while in that role

Sentencing him, Judge David Owen Jones, gave Heales credit for an early guilty plea and said he had an addiction and also ordered him to undergo an internet sex offenders treatment programme, a supervision requirement for 36 months and to sign on the sex offenders register for ten years.

He said: “I accept you have pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, for which I give you full credit.

“I accept that at the age of 64 you are a man of good character and I accept you are low risk.

“I accept you express remorse and shame that you feel for what you have done.

“I am pretty confident there will be no further offending.

“I am confident that in order to protect the public from further offending of this kind it’s necessary to put in a sexual offences order.”

The images were downloaded on Heales’s laptop between July 2012 and July 2014 and included 217 in category A – the most serious, plus 271 category B and 647 category C.

After he was sentenced, court staff allowed Heales to leave by a rear door and not the public entrance to the courthouse.

Investigating officer Det Con Ford, from the Online Investigation Team said: “We want to stamp out the downloading of images.

“The safety of children is paramount and we take it very seriously.

“We are looking to stamp out all child sex exploitation in whatever form.

“This is an aspect of child sexual exploitation and there are victims in this crime.

“We will continue to do what we can to safeguard children.”

Heales was also ordered to pay £750 costs and a £100 victim surcharge.

His laptop was ordered to be destroyed.