June 2021

Wantage tennis coach spared jail for possessing child rape images

A tennis coach who trawled the internet for images of child rape walked from court.

Wantage man David Smith, 69, who used to teach schoolchildren before he retired at 62, was spared an immediate prison sentence after a judge at Oxford Crown Court heard he was remorseful and had already completed courses aimed at tackling his sick behaviour.

Handing him a 10 month prison sentence suspended for 18 months, Judge Nigel Daly challenged comments in Smith’s letter of apology that his online activities “never transferred into the real world”.

“That may be so, but the children that are depicted in these photographs and images are in the real world and when there are photographs of young children being raped by adults they are experiencing that in the real world,” the judge said.

“And the reason why this sort of offending is frowned upon so much is because if it weren’t for people who one might call consumers, who are watching these images – in some cases, although not in your case – purchasing these images, then the children would not be abused in this way.”

Smith must complete a sex offender rehabilitation programme, three month curfew and pay £425 in costs and surcharge.

Prosecutor Robert Lindsey told the court that police raided Smith’s home last February after a tip-off he’d been accessing indecent images of children online.

They seized an HP laptop, a black computer tower and a Samsung Galaxy mobile phone. Police experts found more than 1,000 child sex abuse images, including 149 in the most serious category showing the rape of children aged five to 16.

He also had 396 extreme pornographic images depicting sex between animals and people and 43 prohibited images of children. Many of the files were inaccessible but included both still images and videos.