September 2015

Paedophile loses job after conviction for downloading child abuse images

A Sellafield worker lost his job after he admitted downloading child abuse images on his home computer.

Carlisle Crown Court heard that Michael Thebe, 66, delved into the seedy world of internet porn while going through a “dark period” of his life.

He later entered guilty pleas to seven counts of downloading indecent images of children – four of them being of the most serious A category.

The defendant, of St Helen’s Street, Cockermouth, was put on the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years and given a three-year community order.

Gerard Rogerson, prosecuting, told how the crimes came to light on January 4 when police raided Thebe’s home address, seizing his desktop computer and two laptops.

It was on a Acer laptop that specialist officers discovered the seven indecent photographs of children.

Mr Rogerson said: “It hadn’t been used since 2009 or 2010 and in his interview the defendant said he no longer used it because of difficulties he had with charging it.

“There were no [indecent] images on the other computers and no separate media containing saved images.”

Nor was there, said the prosecutor, any suggestion that the defendant distributed child pornography, though he had used a peer-to-peer network which allowed him have access to other people’s images online.

Mr Rogerson added: “He was full of remorse and is a man of 66 years of age who is of hitherto good character.”

Kim Whittlestone, for Thebe, said the images involved were downloaded as long ago as 2008.

She said: “It was a dark period of his life, which included the break up of his marriage… He did have a respected job at Sellafield but as a result of this he lost his security status and now has lost his job.”

The barrister said the defendant had been open and honest about his offending but the future of his relationship with his new wife did not look promising for him.

Judge Paul Batty QC commented that the images Thebe looked at were “revolting” but he noted that the defendant was thoroughly cooperative with the police.

His sentence included an order that Thebe should undergo a Sex Offender Treatment Programme and three years of Probation Service supervision.