August 2017

Child abuse images Solihull businessman spared an immediate jail sentence

A Solihull businessman was found to have over 800 images of child sexual abuse images on his laptop whilst staying at a hotel, a court heard.

Richard Szpala, 44, was caught looking at the indecent images of children – including the most serious A and B categories showing the rape & torture of young children – when police swooped on the hotel, Birmingham Crown Court was told.

But a judge spared him an immediate jail sentence.

Judge Philip Wassall said he was doing so because he had no previous convictions and he had already taken steps to tackle his child porn habit.

Szpala, of Grafton Road, Shirley, Solihull, pleaded guilty to four charges of possessing indecent images of children.

He was given a four month jail sentence, suspended for two years.

Szpala was also ordered to do 120 hours unpaid work and register as a sex offender for seven years.

Police discovered a movie classed as the most serious Category A, two more pictures were classed as Category B, while there were 854 photographs ranked as Category C.

Hugh O’Brien-Quinn, prosecuting, said Szpala was staying at a hotel in Solihull in October last year for business because he was living in Shropshire at the time.

He was using the hotel’s wi-fi to access file sharing sites and the police went to the hotel and were able to trace his computer to his room.

“They went into the room and seized computer equipment and mobile phones,” Mr O’Brien-Quinn said.

On his laptop they found a movie, lasting just four minutes, which showed a boy and girl, aged between 12 and 14 and in which other unseen people were heard speaking in a foreign language.

Because of the nature of these images, this was classed as Category A – the most serious for child sexual abuse images

During interview, Szpala refused to answer any questions and just said ‘no comment’ throughout.

When police looked at his computer they found the other indecent images – including 854 at Category C – deleted on his hard drive.

Mr O’Brien-Quinn said an examination of his search history found one entitled “pre-teens”.

Judge Wassall told him that normally these offences would carry a six months jail term.

But because Szpala was of previous good character, had pleaded guilty and taken steps to address his addiction, he was giving him a suspended sentence.