August 2017

Ambulance driver jailed for downloading hundreds of child abuse images

An ambulance driver who downloaded hundreds of sick images of child abuse and shared some with other paedophiles has been jailed.

Mark William Steele, 44, even used a laptop given to his young son as a Christmas present to secretly view some of the images which included babies as young as six months old being abused.

Jailing him for 15 months Judge Brian Cummings, QC, told him, “You are devious, defiant and unrepentant.

“There was a degree of sophistication and deviousness in the steps you took to avoid detection and cover up your tracks.”

Liverpool Crown Court heard that years earlier police had examined a computer he owned after his first wife alerted police to suspicions about his activities on it but nothing incriminating was found.

However Judge Cummings said he believed it was after that experience that he went on to take the steps he did to avoid these offences being discovered.

Steele, formerly of Manorbier Crescent in Walton, but who has been living in Warrington following his arrest had denied all the allegations against him but was convicted after a trial of six offences involving downloading child sexual abuse images in all three categories of seriousness, distribution and possessing 857 such images.

Katy Appleton, prosecuting, said that police raided Steel’s then home on October 25, last year and two laptops and a mini iPad were seized and forensically examined. As well as finding the images it was also discovered that 18 of the images had been distributed via Yahoo Messenger.

During his trial Steel claimed that others including his step-son had access to the equipment and denied that he was responsible.

Judge Cummings told Steele, “These photographs involve live children being sexually abused for the gratification of people like you. It goes on on an industrial scale… You and others share responsibility for that lies behind these photographs.”

He said that a substantial amount of the photographs, which featured children up to the age of eight, were found on the Acer laptop given to his son as present in December 2015.

He added it was noticeable that the mini iPad which only Steele used had only one image on it, albeit duplicated 12 times, and he had added his new wife and two step-children as users on the HP laptop which would give him “wriggle room” to try to blame some of them if his offending came to light.

The judge said: “You used these two shared laptops to hide your photographs in plain sight.

“In March last year you set up your profile on the Acer laptop. I am quite satisfied you set it up so you could use it for child porn on the basis that no-one would suspect a child’s laptop.”

The judge said that the child will never get the computer back and will one day understand why. “It is a disgrace.”

He told Steele that his devious behaviour also meant that it took an expert with specialist software to locate a large amount of the material as he had deleted it to cover his tracks.

Judge Cummings said that he found that his criminal behaviour covered about 18 months to two years adding “You have shown no remorse and you clearly have a sexual interest in children.”

He ordered Steele to sign the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years and imposed an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order.