June 2015

Hartlepool pervert caught with indecent photos of children avoids jail to get treatment

A pervert who downloaded child abuse images from the internet narrowly avoided being sent to prison so he could receive specialist treatment to cure him.

A judge said he wanted to lock up 35-year-old Barrie Bell, from Hartlepool, who Teesside Crown Court heard got sexual gratification from looking at pornographic pictures of children aged between 11 and 16.

But Recorder Andrew Haslam was told the length of sentence Bell was facing would be too short for him to be eligible for a Sex Offenders Treatment Programme and gave him a suspended sentence.

David Crook, prosecuting, said Bell’s home was searched after the national Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) agency alerted local police that his computer had downloaded indecent images of children from the web.

Officers found 35 images in total, including one of extreme pornography. Most were in the lowest category of explicitness, but the court heard Bell had downloaded them using file sharing software that meant other perverts could also view them.

Mr Crook said: “When police looked it was clear the defendant had actively been searching himself for indecent images relating to children. Upon his arrest, he said ‘there’s something on there with teen girls but I’ve deleted them’.”

Bell, of Clavering Road, who had no previous convictions, admitted distribution of indecent images, making indecent images and possession of an extreme pornographic image.

Regarding the effect of an immediate jail term, Andrew Teate, mitigating, said to the judge: “He will come out as an individual who has not addressed those difficulties which he clearly acknowledges and accepts.”

Recorder Haslam told Bell: “Part of me thinks I should just lock you up, frankly Mr Bell.

“I have young children of my own and what people like you do is exploit them.

“Without people like you, there wouldn’t be images like this on the internet.”

But he added: “I think I would be failing society at large and failing children if I didn’t allow the probation service to work with you within the auspices of the Sex Offender Treatment programme to reduce the risk you pose to children and start to address the risks you pose and your attitudes towards sexual behaviour.”

Bell was also given eight months’ prison suspended for two years with supervision and made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for five years.