October 2020

No jail for Worcester quizmaster who made indecent images of children

A quizmaster who admitted making hundreds of indecent images of children and having an interest in young boys, has escaped jail.

Judge James Burbridge said he was “satisfied” Marc Knowles case was one for which he did not need to hand out an immediate custodial sentence, and the 36-year-old would benefit from a sexual offences rehabilitation programme.

Knowles, who had been a quizmaster at pubs around Worcester including the New Inn in Ombersley Road and The Talbot in Barbourne, entered his pleas for the first time at the start of the Worcester Crown Court hearing on Wednesday.

He pleaded guilty to making 56 indecent images of children at category A (the most serious category) between February 18 and December 20, 2017.

Knowles also admitted making 215 indecent images at category B between the same dates and 572 indecent photographs of a child at category C between November 1 and December 20, 2017.

He also admitted having on December 20, 2017, a further seven prohibited images of children.

The case had taken three years to get to sentencing, and was also adjourned in January so a psychiatrist could be instructed to assess whether the defendant was fit to plead.

Prosecuting, Simon Phillips said an investigation was launched after 46 illegal images were uploaded to Dropbox, that led the firm to report them to the police.

After the IP address was traced it led them to the Knowles’ family computer, at their home in Saunders Street, Worcester.

“The email address was in due course linked to this defendant,” Mr Phillips said.

“A search was carried out (in December 2017). When officers arrived, Mr Knowles told the police they did not need to speak to his parents, it was him they needed to speak to.

“To his credit (in interview) he admitted he had uploaded 46 images and there were maybe more.”

Mr Phillips said Knowles had also encouraged boys to share images on another site.

The prosecutor said the images found were across three devices including a phone and a computer.

“Stills and movies containing indecent images were found on all three,” the prosecutor said.

“He said he had an interest in young boys and had had that interest for about a year.

“He told the police he knew the ages of the boys, and therefore knew it was wrong.”

He added that the sentencing guidelines for the most serious offence was a starting point of a year custody, up to three years.

Sentencing him Judge Burbridge said: “You were a man of good character but you had a secret – for about three years you were downloading images of children.

“Behind every child in every picture there is a real victim, and because there appears to be a market for these disgusting images, it leads more children to become victims.”

Judge Burbridge said he could draw on Knowles’ good character, his conduct with police, and he had not sought to meet a child.

He handed Knowles an 18 month community order, which includes the condition he must complete the accredited sex offences programme and 40 rehabilitation activity days, and gave him a two month curfew.

He was also given a sexual harm prevention order, and ordered to sign the sex offenders register for five years.