January 2021

Pervert had nearly 35,000 child sex-abuse images at his Scarborough flat

A paedophile who downloaded almost 35,000 indecent images of children has been given a 22-month prison sentence

Ryan Bellerby, 26, an avid video-gamer described as a “hermit”, scoured the web for vile images of children, York Crown Court heard.

Between December 2019 and February last year, Bellerby downloaded 34,927 indecent images of minors, said prosecutor Dan Cordey.

More than 5,200 of these were rated Class A – the worst kind of such material involving the serious sexual abuse of children.

Bellerby was arrested on February 20 last year when police seized a laptop, two mobile phones and a hard drive from his flat in Scarborough.

When police asked for the PIN number and lock code for one of the phones, Bellerby refused, preventing officers from examining the device and resulting in a costly and drawn-out investigation.

Bellerby, who was remanded in custody following his arrest, appeared for sentence on Friday after admitting multiple counts of making and distributing indecent images.

He denied two further charges, including allegations that he tried to cause a 12-year-old boy to engage in sexual activity and attempting to communicate with a 13-year-old boy for the purposes of sexual gratification. The prosecution accepted these pleas and not-guilty verdicts were entered on those two charges.

Mr Cordey said Bellerby had been served with a formal notice to disclose the pass code to his Sony mobile phone in May last year but had still not complied.

Bellerby, who suffers from Asperger’s, was initially arrested on suspicion of previous illegal online activity in the previous October and was bailed to the flat in Scarborough.

His bail conditions included no unsupervised contact with children and not to have any devices capable of accessing the internet, but police found a Samsung mobile phone hidden behind a curtain during the search of the flat in February 2020.

Mr Cordey said Bellerby had downloaded hundreds of indecent images from a Russian website which he had visited on “multiple” occasions. The illicit images – including photos and videos – featured boys and girls aged between six and 12.

Bellerby had used aliases on various Skype accounts to distribute some of the images and installed encrypted Cloud storage, again using a false name, to store some of the material.

Daniel Prowse, for Bellerby, said his client had lived much of his adult life “as a hermit, spending most of the day on the internet playing video games”.

“Any (social) interaction appears to have been made online,” added Mr Prowse.

“His entire life (has been) lived in (video) games with generally younger people who tend to play such games. It’s an unhealthy and damaging lifestyle.”

Judge Sean Morris said although it was clear that Bellerby had his “own problems” and led a “bizarre, isolated” lifestyle, his online behaviour had been so egregious that only an immediate jail sentence would suffice.

“People with Asperger’s know right from wrong,” he told the defendant.

“There was a degree of sophistication and persistence in this (behaviour) and you carried on with it after the police had become involved. You lived in a fantasy world half of the time, spending most of your life gaming.”

The judge blasted Bellerby for showing “complete contempt for law and order” by refusing to give police the pass code for his phone, which led to the “consuming and expensive task of having to unlock (that phone)”.

He handed Bellerby a 22-month jail term, although will not serve all of that as he has already been in custody following his arrest in February last year.

He told Bellerby: “You have been in prison…in the toughest circumstances (due to the Covid pandemic). My view is it’s time to wipe the slate clean and then we will see where you go in life.”

Bellerby was also given a 10-year sexual-harm prevention order which includes curb on his internet use.