A pervert caught sharing videos of child abuse on secret WhatsApp groups searched online: ‘Why am I a paedophile?’
Garry Byrne lay in bed in the room he lodged in at a married couple’s home swapping images with more than 400 people across the 32 groups – copying his favourites from his Samsung phone to two laptops.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard the 55-year-old loner confessed having a sickening sexual interest in children aged between six and 15 but had videos of a toddler boy of 18 months being abused.
When he was arrested at home Byrne, co-founder of GDC Waste Limited in Portsmouth, immediately admitted officers would find indecent images on his two laptops, phone and USB stick.
In all, he had 4,211 child abuse images – including 755 videos and 614 still images rated as category A, the most serious classification.
Prosecutor Sally Mertens said: ‘On the phone there were 27,329 images which were ungraded but they have been flash reviewed (by police). The majority appear to have been of children and would fit into categories A, B and C.’
Ms Mertens revealed Byrne, who has since moved from his home in Langley Road, Fratton, has two convictions for attempting to incite gross indecency with a six-year-old boy in 2004.
Byrne sent 56 images on WhatsApp groups but the court heard they were received by multiple people meaning they were distributed more than 15,000 times.
Judge William Ashworth said: ‘Each of these images represent a moment, a memory, for those children when they would have been in an environment with abusive adults – likely to be either away from the care of their parents or abused at the hands of their parents, and subjected to horrifying ordeals which will no doubt scar them forever.
‘It’s the trade in those images that perpetuates the need or perceived need for people to continue to abuse those children in this terrible manner behind closed doors.’
He added Byrne shared the abuse images to ‘thousands and thousands’ of people via WhatsApp groups. The charges showed he distributed 104,000 images.
Ms Mertens said: ‘He admitted to having a sexual interest in young boys. He said that, despite his previous conviction of attempting to incite gross indecency with a child, he had never approached a child.’
Byrne claimed his watching abuse images was ‘his release and that prevents him from offending against children,’ Ms Mertens said.
Byrne, a chronic alcoholic who had drunk the equivalent of two bottles of vodka a day until recently, admitted three charges each of distributing and making indecent images of children between May 2017 and February 2018.
The defendant had searched ‘why am I a paedophile?’ on his phone, the court heard.
Byrne was jailed for three years and put on the sex offenders’ register for life. A sexual harm prevention order was imposed for life.