June 2021

Paedophile attacked as locals storm home to dish out ‘punishment’

A paedophile who used an ex-work colleague’s photo to ‘catfish’ young boys was attacked when members of the public stormed his home.

Matthew Atkinson, 36, set up a SnapChat profile with a picture of the “attractive young woman” to “entice” children online.

But when she reported it to the police, officers raided his address and discovered a sickening stash of child rape photos.

Atkinson, whose vile collection included photos of babies being molested, confessed to “sexual fantasies” about little boys.

Liverpool Crown Court today heard the pervert has since been attacked by men who “rampaged” through and vandalised his flat.

Jo Maxwell, prosecuting, said police received a report from the woman about a fake profile using her photo on July 8 last year.

The court heard she said “sexually explicit photos of underage boys” had been sent and received by the SnapChat profile.

The woman then told officers she suspected Atkinson was responsible.

Ms Maxwell said police investigated the account and discovered it was connected to another account, MJAtkins84.

They traced an IP address used with it to Atkinson’s former home in Seaforth, where he lived with his girlfriend.

Officers found he had created another account, also featuring his former work colleague’s photo and “requests had been made for sexually explicit messages to be sent to a person using that account”.

Police raided his home last August and seized mobile phones and a computer containing 457 indecent images of children

There were 86 Category A, 249 Category B and 249 Category C indecent images.

The Category A files – involving child rape – included photos of a boy aged as young as 18 months and a girl aged as young as two who was wearing a nappy, plus a video showing a child aged as young as 18 months.

The Category B and C files involved babies as young as 12 months.

Atkinson, who has previous convictions for theft, had also made online searches using child sexual abuse terms.

Ms Maxwell said he was interviewed and admitted possessing the files, but said “he can’t remember why or how”.

Atkinson admitted one count of possessing and three counts of downloading indecent images of children.

Judge David Swinnerton said the indecent images included “extremely young” children and “babies being sexually abused”.

The judge said: “I would invite you to think just how traumatic the childhood is for children who are abused sexually, photographed, and then these photographs are distributed online in order for people like you to gain sexual pleasure by looking at them.”

He said Atkinson contributed to their abuse by providing a “market” for the photos.

The judge said none of the charges related to his activity on SnapChat, when he used a photo described by police as of an “attractive young woman”, but it was “a troubling feature” of the case.

However, he said: “You were using that deliberately in order to entice conversation with young boys.”

Judge Swinnerton said Atkinson denied being sexually attracted to children, but admitted having “sexual fantasies or dreams about young boys”.

The judge said the “only logical, sensible inference” from the evidence was he did have a sexual interest in children, specifically young boys and including babies.

Judge Swinnerton said he would increase the starting point to 18 months because of their young age and vulnerability, but his credit of one third credit for his guilty plea reduced this to 12 months.

He said he would suspend that sentence for two years only because Atkinson could undergo an “intensive programme” suggested by the Probation Service and designed to make sure he never progressed from looking at images to touching children1

The judge said: “You haven’t done that and I want to make absolutely sure you never do that.”

He told Atkinson to attend a Horizon sex offenders treatment programme and to complete a 30-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and 100 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Swinnerton said Atkinson must comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and sign on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.