Pervert 'with sexual interest in children' found with hundreds of images of youngsters being abused

Stephen Dews.
Stephen Dews.

A 43-year-old man who tried to disguise his online identity when downloading perverted images of children has been jailed for a year.

Stephen Dews, who still lives with his parents, used a 'tor' browser on his computer designed to prevent the authorities from discovering the location of the user.

The 350 moving and still images downloaded by Dews included images of children as young as three being raped, Durham Crown Court heard.

Dews used Facebook and other message services to discuss his sexual interest in children with others.

Responding to a request on social media, Dews said: "Wish I had more to show you, people have been quiet lately."

Another user messaged Dews: "You got stuff? You can send it here."

Prosecutor Joanne Kidd said Dews was arrested after police received information about his internet activity.

"Officers executed a search warrant at his home," added Ms Kidd.

"They recovered three devices which were analysed and found to contain 143 of the most serious category A images, 112 category B images, and 99 category C images.

"There was a mixture of moving and still images depicting children as young as three being sexually abused.

"It was evident the children were in distress.

"The images had been downloaded onto one of the devices using a 'tor' browser - a browser installed by users wishing to hide their identity."

Dews, 43, of Glanton Terrace, Horden, admitted three charges of downloading indecent images of children between January and April, this year.

Lewis Kerr, defending, said in mitigation: "Mr Dews is something of a loner, he is still living with his parents, and has never had a full relationship.

"He became isolated, and allowed his sexual interest in children to come to the fore online.

"Mr Dews has a job which he will lose if he is sent to prison.

"He was a man of previous good character, and he was frank and honest with the police when questioned."

The Recorder, Mr Nick Lumley QC, jailed Dews for 12 months.

Recorder Lumley told him: "It's clear you have a sexual interest in young children.

"You perpetuate the abuse of children by providing a market for the abusers.

"This offending was persistent over a period of months, and I am satisfied you would have carried on offending had you not been arrested.

"Looking at the messages, one might form the impression you were distributing images to others, but the prosecution do not assert that so I am sentencing you for possession.

"No doubt your elderly parents will be bewildered when they find out what you've been up to, but there is no realistic alternative to immediate custody in this case."

Dews was made the subject of an indefinite order limiting his internet use.

The internet devices containing the images were confiscated and will be destroyed.

Dews must register as a sex offender for 10 years.