August 2015

Ex-fireman’s 25 years of service help save him from jail for downloading child abuse images

benn

A fireman’s 25 years of public service helped save him from jail for downloading images of child abuse.

Judge Sean Morris told Peter Bennett: “You put your neck on the line for 25 years as a fireman prepared to enter burning buildings in order to rescue people. 

“That is dedication to the public.

“Like soldiers, policemen, ambulance workers, people who perform that kind of service to the public have a lot in their moral bank that they can draw upon in times of need.

“Well, this is your time of need.

“Because of the fact that for 25 years you were prepared to risk your life to save others, I’m prepared to save you today from immediate prison.”

Bennett had 111 indecent or prohibited pictures of children on computer equipment which was seized by police.

The 66-year-old grandfather’s Redcar home was searched on November 25, 2013, Teesside Crown Court heard yesterday.

Illegal images downloaded from the internet since October 2007 were found on a tower computer, a hard drive and a USB drive.

Some were at the most serious level and one example given in court involved a child aged 18 months to two years.

Bennett, of Kettleness Avenue, Redcar, admitted two counts of making indecent photographs of children and one of possessing an extreme pornographic image – his first conviction.

He confessed to officers he downloaded the still and moving pictures, he said without looking at them.

He said he downloaded pornography, had no intention of downloading indecent images of children but they came among a large amount of files.

He had used search terms like “child porn” but claimed he was looking for “all sorts of activity”.

Robert Mochrie, defending, said: “Under any circumstance it’s completely unacceptable for people to view sexual images of children.

“But to those of us who have had the pleasure of bringing children into the world and raising them, such as Mr Bennett has, it makes it completely inexplicable that anybody could find images of children sexually fulfilling in any way at all.

“In short, it’s so far removed from the norm that it’s clear that a man who does this needs help.”

Judge Morris told the defendant, who has adult children and grandchildren: “You could have no complaint if I sent you immediately to prison. But I’m going to step back from that.

“The number of images in this case is comparatively few compared to the tens of thousands and thousands sometimes this court has to deal with.

“It’s quite clear that something’s gone wrong in your life.

“You also have a wife with crippling arthritis who will no doubt find it difficult to cope if you weren’t there.”

The judge said he could only lock Bennett up for a short time, not long enough to do anything constructive with his problems.

He gave Bennett a 15-month prison sentence suspended for two years with supervision and a sex offender treatment programme.

Bennett was also given a three-year sexual harm prevention order to safeguard the public in future, and will be on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.