Financial trader spared jail over child images and extreme pornography charges
A South Tyneside stocks and shares dealer has been handed a suspended prison term for possessing indecent child images and extreme pornography.
Paul Clarke, 37, walked free from court but was warned any further offending in the next 18 months could see his eight-week prison term activated.
He was found with three lowest level category C images of children on his mobile phone when his home in Thill Stone Mews, Whitburn, was raided by police.
Four images of extreme pornography, showing people performing sex acts on animals, were on the same device, prosecutor Emma O’Hegarty told his sentencing hearing.
Forensic analysis showed Clarke had committed the offences between April 26, 2021, and April 28, 2022, South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard.
At an earlier appearance at the same court, he pleaded guilty to one count of making an indecent photo or pseudo-photo of a child.
Clarke, who has a previous conviction for a sexual assault, also admitted one count of possessing an extreme pornographic image.
Mrs O’Hegarty said: “At 7.30am, officers attended the defendant’s home address. Present was the defendant.
“He was arrested for indecent images of a child. A mobile phone was seized, and it contained three category C images and four of extreme pornography.
“It’s a starting point of a high-level community order, with a range to 26 weeks custody. He has one conviction, a sexual assault in 2018.”
Joanne Gatens, defending, said some of the images had appeared in emails randomly sent to Clarke from members of a chat room he had accessed.
Mrs Gatens said he had entered the chat rooms as a type of therapy for an issue stemming from childhood.
She added: “There is nothing to suggest he had put in keywords which would show he was seeking these images.
“He was perhaps not vigilant enough as to what was there. This is not someone who was accessing these deliberately, but through chat rooms.”
Read South Tyneside's news on the go with our free email newsletters - bringing the headlines to your inbox. Catch up on the day's news and sport and enjoy even more from your Gazette. Visit our website here to find out more and sign up.
Magistrates jailed Clarke for eight weeks for the child images and six weeks for the extreme images, to run concurrently, suspended for 18 months.
He was made subject to the terms of sex offenders register for seven years, and must complete 35 rehabilitation days and 35 days on the Horizon rehabilitation programme.
A separate hearing to decide if Clarke should also be made subject to a sexual harm prevention order will be held at the same court on Tuesday, March 26.