November 2020

Suspended sentence for stay-at-home dad who trawled web for indecent images

A stay-at-home dad who had more than 25,000 child sexual abuse pictures saved on his computer and iPhone has avoided a prison sentence

Gareth Curtis told police he didn’t have a sexual interest in children and tried to claim he must have accidentally clicked on images after his finger “slipped”.

Swindon Crown Court heard the 41-year-old was found out after police received a tip-off in December 2019 that an Instagram account with the username “Gaz” had uploaded an indecent image of a child to the internet.

The IP address was traced to Curtis’ home in Trowbridge. Police visited him at home on December 4 and seized a Lenovo laptop, an iPhone, tablet and two USB sticks.

Prosecutor Catherine Flint told the court that digital forensics officers had found 31 category A images on the laptop and phone, 72 images in category B and 991 category C images. All the children were under 13 and some were visibly distressed.

A further 27,000 images were found on the devices but had not been sorted by the police. The images showed signs of having been deleted. All had been collected between January 11 and October 30, 2019.

Search history on the devices pointed to Curtis trawling the internet for the illegal material. He had also followed several blogs on the website Tumblr on which indecent images had been shared by other users.

Interviewed by detectives, Curtis claimed not to have a sexual interest in children. He initially suggested he may have clicked on the images accidentally after his “finger slipped” and also said he sometimes fell asleep at his computer.

Curtis, formerly of Frampton Court, Trowbridge, pleaded guilty at the magistrates’ court to three counts of possession of indecent images. He was a man of previous good character.

Recorder Simon Foster sentenced Curtis to 12 months’ imprisonment suspended for a year-and-a-half. He must do 35 rehabilitation activity days, 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £340 costs.

The judge described the images Curtis had viewed as stomach-churning. “It’s very often the judge’s job – not, mercifully, these days to see the images themselves – but to have to read descriptions of the sort of images that persons like yourself download from the internet, which lamentably is all too easy today.

“It may be a comparatively simple operation but the consequences in all sorts of directions are devastating. The fact there are people like you, described as possessing a deviant sexual nature, who are prepared to look at these images means there is a market. Not necessarily a commercial market, but a market of people who wish to look at them and therefore such images are prepared.”

Curtis must abide by a 10 year sexual harm prevention order and register as a sex offender.