A SICK pervert who built his own computer to download almost 20,000 indecent images of children has walked free from court.
Simon Cole also used computer software to mask his sick use of the internet despite being subject to the strict conditions of his sexual harm prevention order (SHPO).
The 52-year-old also admitted taking illicit photographs of his neighbours and of a schoolgirl passing by his home.
In 2014, he was jailed for 20 months after he spent ten years amassing a sickening library of 850,000photographs of child abuse at his home in Darlington.
Annelise Haugstad, prosecuting, said the defendant used a custom-built computer tower to download the indecent images and was caught in possession of a locked USB memory stick.
She said: “The tower had four hard drives and the software capable of cleaning, permanent deletion of browsing history and temporary internet files, which rendered those items unrecoverable by forensic software.
“It has been used on multiple occasions and the last time it was used was in February.”
The court heard how Cole had been downloading the images between December 2021 and February this year.
Miss Haugstad added: “He admitted taking photographs of his neighbours from his bedroom, without their knowledge, mainly of female neighbours who took his fancy, and also a photograph of a passing schoolgirl in uniform.”
Cole, of Charnwood Drive, Darlington, pleaded guilty to two breaches of his SHPO and two charges of possession of indecent images of children – 19,165 in Category A and a further 61 in Category B.
Duncan McReddie, in mitigation, said his client would benefit from the intervention of the probation service to help him address his behaviour.
He said: “I concede the custodial threshold but I would assert that it is in the interests of justice that any sentence imposed is suspended or you pass a lengthy and onerous community order.”
Judge James Brown sentenced Cole to two years in custody, suspended for two years for the ‘blatant breach’ of the court order.
“You pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to some very serious offences which echo very loudly the offences you participated in eight years ago,” he said.
“At that time, in February 2014, you were dealt with for offences of a very similar nature and you were sent to prison and a sexual offences prevention order was imposed.”
The judge added: “For what I regard as a blatant breach of the order, you clearly took steps to avoid the order being effective.”
Cole was also made subject of a ten-year notification order to help police track his whereabouts and ordered to take part in an accredited sexual offender programme to address his behaviour.
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