South Shields man caught with over a MILLION child abuse images is spared jail

A man caught with over a million child abuse images on his computer devices has kept his freedom.

Police had gone to Dean Tones' home in March 2020 after illegal internet downloads were linked to an IP address that was registered there.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the computer equipment that was seized and inspected contained over one million pictures and videos of children being abused.

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Prosecutor Annelise Haugstad told the court police had attended the house in March 2020 and there were three people there.

The case was heard at Newcastle Crown Court.

Miss Haugstad said: "There were three persons present at the address.

"The defendant, when faced with the prospect of all three being arrested, accepted it was him.

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"He said 'Can I say something, I think it might be me, can I plead insanity'."

Tones, 33, of Sycamore Avenue, South Shields, admitted possessing indecent photographs and prohibited photographs of children.

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The court heard 1,067 were category A, which is the most serious, 917 were category B and over one million were category C.

A total of 219 were cartoon pictures and movies.

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Vic Laffey, defending, said there were an "extraordinary" number of images but added that Tones has never been in trouble before and has a number of mental health disorders which have left him living an isolated life.

The court heard Tones has been assessed as a low risk of committing any contact offence against a child.

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Judge Robert Spragg said medical reports have concluded Tones' conditions and compulsive behaviour could have led to the high volume of material he collected.

The judge added: "It cannot sensibly be suggested he viewed all of these images."

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Tones was sentenced to a community order for three years with rehabilitation and programme requirements, which the judge said was the best way to protect the public in the long term.

Judge Spragg said: "It is clearly an unusual case with a defendant who clearly has a mental disorder which has impacted directly upon his offending."

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Tones, who must sign the sex offenders register and abide by a sexual harm prevention order for five years, was warned he faces a 16 month jail term if hebreaches the order.