May 2016

Man found with more than 1,000 computer-generated child abuse images is given treatment

A HENBURY man found with more than a thousand images of young girls engaged in sexual activity has been handed treatment.

Former gaming shop worker Zak Hems turned to inappropriate material online due to depression, Bristol Crown Court heard.

Police called on the family man after tracking indecent downloads to his computer address.

Hems, 42, of Ellsworth Road, pleaded guilty to three charges of making indecent photos of children and a charge of possessing prohibited images.

Judge Michael Roach imposed a three-year community order with two years’ supervision and sex offender treatment programme.

He told Hems to register as a sex offender for five years, pay £400 court costs and banned unchecked internet use with a Sexual Harm Prevention order.

He also forfeited Hems’ computer equipment.

The judge said the offences were “completely abhorrent” but the community would be better served if Hems was put on a programme rather than into jail.

He told Hems: “If I were to send you to prison it would be for a relatively short period of time.

“it would not address your obvious needs.

“You would be released back into the community to face the difficulties you have always faced.

“If I take the step the probation service recommends a watchful eye can be kept on you.”

Victoria Heasman, prosecuting, said police zeroed in on Hems’ illicit activity and searched his home, seizing computer equipment including a computer tower and laptop.

Forensic interrogation of the equipment revealed Hems had 1,269 prohibited sexual images of girls which were either computer-generated or cartoons.

He was also found to have four “real” abuse photos in the most serious harm category, four photos in the next category down and 32 photos in the least serious category.

Ms Heasman said images were in a specially created folder, containing sub-folders within.

Hems, a man of previous good character, admitted to police searching for photos and filing them.

He explained that initially he was sexually aroused but since taking an anti-depressant that was no longer the case,

Emily Evans, defending, said: “He is remorseful and ashamed of his actions.

“He experienced difficulties at the time he reverted to this course of behaviour.

“His relationship with his wife was struggling, they were not communicating and he had an extremely stressful job.”

Ms Evans said, though, that her client now had a better relationship with his wife, he had changed his job, his stress level had gone down and he was seeing his GP regularly.

She told the court: “His thought processes are entirely different now. The offences have stopped and he is addressing issues that led him into offending.”