South Shields man caught with sickening collection of child abuse images
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When approached by officers Nathan Stephen had asked, 'Is this about that girl I was speaking to?' before they found the illegal material on his electronic devices.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that the now 25-year-old had committed the images offences between January 2016 and October 2020, before suspicions were raised about his internet activity.
As well as having the pictures Stephen, who then lived in South Shields, also admitted distributing a category A image to the person he had been talking to, who he believed was 19.
Prosecutor Rachel Glover said: "On the 14th October, 2020, there was a call to attend the defendant's home address because there was reports of uploading of indecent images via Google.
"When officers attended his mother stated he was at his work."
The court heard that after contact was established with him, Stephen agreed to meet the police later on.
Ms Glover added: "When he saw officers he said 'Is this about the girl I was speaking to? I didn't realise she was 15 until later'.
"Indecent images of children and other illegal images were seized.
"There were 43 category A images, 52 category B, 73 category C and a total of 2,876 prohibited images of children and the extreme pornographic items."
When interviewed by police, the court heard that Stephen said the female told him she was 19 and admitted the distribution of one illegal photograph to her.
Stephen, now of Brighton Road, Gateshead, pleaded guilty to three counts of making indecent images of children, possessing extreme pornography, possession of prohibited images and distribution of a category A image.
Tony Cornberg, mitigating, told the court that his client was already under voluntary supervision with relevant bodies to address his offending.
Mr Cornberg said: "When it comes to realistic rehabilitation, that has already started.
"Not many people engage in this voluntarily, and of course his previous good character stands him in good stead."
Judge Stephen Earl sentenced Stephen to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years, with programme and curfew requirements.
Stephen was ordered to abide by a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and sign the sex offenders register for ten years.