South Shields teenager stockpiled images of sickening attacks on youngsters

Ridley was sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court.
Ridley was sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court.

A computer user who said he was introduced to viewing online child abuse images through internet contacts in America has been spared jail.

John Ridley was just 17 when he started downloading pictures and movies of sickening attacks on youngsters to computer devices at his home in South Shields, where he lived with his

family.

Over the period of around nine months, the now 19-year-old built up a shocking collection of 112 still and moving images of abuse.

Newcastle Crown Court heard 50 of the images were in the most serious category of their type.

He told police he started the downloaded collection because he was "curious".

Prosecutor Rachel Masters told the court Ridley's illegal haul was uncovered when police raided his home in September last year.

By then, Ridley had deleted the images in his collection but they were recovered from his computer by police experts.

Miss Masters told the court: "He confessed it was he who had downloaded them onto the devices.

"He said he had been chatting to people in America and they introduced it to him.

"He said he was curious so began to download images and movies."

Ridley, of Highfields Road, South Shields, admitted making indecent images of children.

Judge Edward Bindloss told him: "There is no evidence you distributed them and no evidence you took the photographs yourself.

"These are images that have been found by you on the internet."

But the judge added: "These are always serious offences.

"There are victims in those images. They are children who have been horridly abused.

"The people who view the images are, to a degree, encouraging what is ensuing."

Judge Bindloss sentenced Ridley to a community order for three years, with programme requirements, and said he must register as a sex offender for five years.

The judge said Ridley's lack of maturity at the time of the offences and his previous good character meant intervention was the best option to reduce any future risk he may pose.

Fiona Lamb, defending, said Ridley is "extremely remorseful and clearly embarrassed" about his behaviour and added: "He is still a young man.

"He accepts what he did was wrong and by viewing the images he is revictimising the children in those images."