February 2021

Rugby man jailed for downloading and distributing indecent images of very young children and babies

A police investigation found that a paedophile from Rugby who was downloading and distributing indecent images of very young children and babies also made searches for childcare jobs.

And after being released on bail, Lee Barnwell continued to search for and exchange similar images and had a bag of children’s underwear at his home.

He had pleaded guilty to six charges of making indecent images of children, one of possessing indecent images of children and four of distributing them.

Appearing at Warwick Crown Court, Barnwell (48) of Dunchurch Road, Rugby, was jailed for three years and four months and ordered to register as a sex offender for life.

Prosecutor Graeme Simpson said that in April 2019 the police executed a search warrant at Barnwell’s home after they had received information about his internet activity.

He was arrested, and the police seized a number of devices including a laptop, a Kindle Fire, two mobile phones and two USB sticks which were examined by high-tech officers.

On them they discovered 156 images classed as being in category A, 147 category B images and 3,535 category C images.

“It was also discovered that the defendant had been in communication with another person on a chat app. He used the name Leo and had been chatting to someone called ‘Kingdice.’

“They exchanged images of children, some of them new-born and very young babies,” said Mr Simpson.

Barnwell was also found to have carried out internet searches using search terms including ‘sex with kids’ and ‘photos of nude children.’

And in 2014 he had made a search for childcare jobs, although Mr Simpson pointed out there was nothing to suggest that he had actually been working with children.

There were also files on the laptop with pictures of named young boys on which grossly indecent text had been added.

Barnwell was bailed, and in June last year the police received intelligence that he had been uploading further images of children.

He was arrested again in August, and a phone and a second Kindle Fire were found to contain 142 indecent images in all three categories which he had downloaded since his first arrest.

Online chat revealed he had been involved in distributing images in the two months prior to that arrest, with 3,851 files having been exchanged between him and two other people.

And the police also found a bag containing children’s underwear, said Mr Simpson.

He added that Barnwell, who had no previous convictions, was interviewed three times – but each time replied ‘no comment’ to questions put to him.

Judge Anthony Potter told Barnwell: “I have to sentence you for 11 offences that you committed over the course of about two years, all of which involved the possession or distribution of sexualised images of children, some of them no more than babies.

“People like you give life to the abuse of children, because if you didn’t view or distribute these images, other people would not do that for your gratification.

“People like you bear a heavy responsibility for the sexual abuse of children.

“You offending should have come to an end on the 6th of April 2019 when you were arrested and six devices were seized.

“But you sought to carry on searching for further images of children, and you had been making searches for jobs involving the care

“All of these matters go beyond the simple viewing of images and show an interest in taking your interest in children into another zone.”