November 2019

Paedophile who told police he’d been ‘really good lately’ jailed

A paedophile caught with sickening images including a photo of an infant in pain was today jailed.

But a judge said John Connell’s sentence could have been longer, if not for his inoperable, life-threatening heart condition .

The morbidly obese pervert missed a court hearing last month because he was in hospital, having suffered six angina attacks.

The next day he admitted possessing nearly 8,000 indecent images , featuring child sex abuse victims as young as three.

Connell was jailed for four years in 2010 for trading videos of babies being raped and collecting a “repulsive and repugnant” stash .

The FBI tipped off Merseyside Police officers, who found so many horrific photos they were forced to give up counting after 70,000.

At the time, Connell was told to sign on the Sex Offenders Register and comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) for life.

However, he was sent back to prison in 2016, after searching for photographs of schoolchildren online, then trying to cover his tracks.

Liverpool Crown Court heard Connell was handed a three-year community order in February 2017, for yet another breach.

Police went to the now 64-year-old’s home in Belle Vale on January 24 this year, to again check he was complying with the SHPO.

Kate Gaskell, prosecuting, said Connell was asked to present all of his electronic devices with access to the internet.

He handed a female officer a tablet device and said: “You won’t find anything on there, I’ve been really good lately.”

But police discovered 925 Category A – the most serious category – images, downloaded between November 3, 2018 and January 24.

He pleaded guilty to downloading these files, plus 1,336 Category B and 5,705 Category C photos, and possessing 7,996 in total.

Connell, now of no fixed address, also admitted possessing 1,195 animal porn pictures and 593 prohibited images of children.

Ms Gaskell said the latest offences were aggravated by the large number of images and that one showed a child aged just three.

She said: “They are described as being in pain in one of the images found on the computer.”

Connell lived next to Childwall Valley Primary School when he first came to the attention of police in the 2000s.

He claimed he tried “to sort his life out” and no longer “mentally undressed children he saw in the street” after his release from jail in 2012.

Connell was meant to attend a sex offenders treatment programme as part of his community order, but it was partially revoked “on the grounds of ill health”.

Defence lawyers have said he suffers from type two diabetes, heart attacks, arthritis, lymphoma in his knees, and depression.

Stella Hayden, defending, today said her client had been made homeless this week and was in “considerable ill health”.

She said he gave a “candid account” to the Probation Service and his interest in this material was increased when his mental health problems were acute.

Ms Hayden said he asked her to express remorse on his behalf and that he had some insight into the impact of his offending, despite his criminal record.

She said: “His life expectancy is affected as a result of serious heart conditions. It’s not a case where surgery is an option.”

Judge Stuart Driver, QC, said sentencing guidelines suggested a starting point of one year in jail, with a range of one to three years.

He said Connell’s previous convictions were “a very bad aggravating feature” and the offences were committed during his community order, which the judge revoked.

Judge Driver said the case was further aggravated by the large number of images and the fact they included a three-year-old.

He said: “The aggravating features are so grave as to move the sentence outside the bracket prescribed by the guideline.”

However, the judge said: “On the other hand, there is mitigation. You’re a man who is in very poor health.

“You have a serious heart condition that would normally be treated by surgery, but your general health is so poor that surgery is too risky to perform. The heart condition therefore reduces your life expectancy.”

Judge Driver said this brought the sentence back within the normal range and handed the paedophile two years in jail, including credit for his guilty pleas.