Man spared jail after being caught with thousands of child abuse images

A man who was found with thousands of child abuse images stored on his computer devices has kept his freedom.

Gareth Briggs was snared when police raided his home and seized a mobile phone, laptop and a hard drive belonging to him.

Prosecutor Rachael Glover told Newcastle Crown Court that during the search in February 2021, officers also gained access to Briggs' Mega storage account.

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Ms Glover said: "The devices were subsequently examined and found to contain indecent images of children and there were also indecent images of children present on the defendant's Mega account.

The case was heard at Newcastle Crown Court.

"In total, there was 1,528 category A images, 1,160 category B, 1,947 category C, and seven extreme pornography.

"On the defendant's mobile there was a Facebook Messenger chat between him and another male."

The court heard that the nature of the conversations online included chat about the indecent images.

Briggs, 39, of Manor Way in Jarrow, was arrested and later pleaded guilty to three counts of making indecent images of children and one count of possession of extreme pornography.

In his defence, the court heard he was a hard-working man who had spiralled due to problems with drugs.

He also pleaded guilty at the earliest possible opportunity.

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Mr Recorder Mark McKone KQ told Briggs: "You've got to be sentenced for four offences.

"You provided the police with your online encrypted storage facility called Mega.

"That showed between the 9th of May 2020 and the 23rd of February 2021 - a period of nine months - you downloaded some 1,528 category A images.

"Some of them were moving images and included children between the ages of two months and 12 years.

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"I'm sure you will appreciate that category A images are called category A images because they of real children actually being raped.

"When people like you download these images, you encourage people who record these images to continue doing it.

"There are aggravating features as well - the ages of the children, the large number of images and some of the images are moving."

However, based on recommendations from the probation service, the judge imposed a three-year community order on Briggs.

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He must also complete 30 rehabilitation days, as well as a specialist intervention course, and a separate drugs treatment programme.

The judge added: "There's quite a lot to this order and I hope you agree it is better for society than you going to prison for a few months."