June 2020

Penwortham paedophile’s stash of child abuse videos were so distressing an officer had to change jobs

A paedophile who had videos of babies being raped along his vile collection of indecent images has narrowly avoided prison due to sentencing guidelines about rehabilitating offenders.

Some people had to leave the court room in tears as prosecutors described the sickening material Robert Bilsborough, 30, had downloaded.

Prosecutor David Clarke said an experienced officer, tasked with writing a schedule to summarise what the images were, had to move jobs and undertake counselling after seeing a particularly traumatic three and a half minute compilation of clips that included babies being sexually attacked.

Judge Philip Parry said there were several factors that would justify a prison sentence, but that he had to balance them with a lack of previous convictions and current sentencing guidelines, which place a huge weight on favouring lengthy community orders with sex offender treatment where a prison term would be relatively short.

Preston Crown Court was told police attended Bilsborough’s then home on Factory Lane, Penwortham, during an investigation into activity involving an IP address, and he was arrested later.

The defendant made it clear straight away they didn’t need to look for anyone else, told them what devices would be at his home, and gave them security codes to access them.

Officers seized 14 pieces of equipment, including laptops and USB memory sticks.

The court heard due to police resource constraints only five of them could be examined, but that potentially there could have been as many as 70,000 images across all the devices.

The probe also showed he had installed software to hide his history.

Bilsborough gave no comment in his interviews, but later admitted making 1,229 Category A images – the most serious in law – with 680 at Category B, 988 at Category C and possessing 10 prohibited images of a child.

Judge Parry remarked it was “no wonder” the specialist officer had sought counselling.

He imposed a three year community order to attend a treatment programme and rehabilitation activity, as well as 200 hours unpaid work

Bilsborough was given a 10 year Sexual harm Prevention Order (SHPO) and must sign the Sex Offender’s Register for five years.

He was also ordered to pay £800 costs.