A COMPUTER user who downloaded sickening images of children being abused has been allowed to keep his freedom.
Investigators found 161 still photographs and eight movies of youngsters being sexually abused, on a PC hard-drive in Jonathon Maddison’s bedroom after police raided his home in August last year.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the 19-year-old had even accessed 29 further images using his father’s touch-screen computer.
His internet search history included phrases such as “child porn nude.”
Maddison, of Barmston Way, Barmston, Washington, who has never been in trouble before, pleaded guilty to making indecent photographs of children and possessing indecent photographs between April and August last year.
Judge Penny Moreland told him: “You need to be very clear that these are photographs of real children, it is not just looking at pictures, these photos are of children being abused and that abuse is photographed.
“If you have not begun to understand that then you need to reflect on that very carefully because these are offences that cause real harm to real children.
“People like you looking at pictures of that abuse facilitate it and you need to understand that.”
Judge Moreland said Maddison would not be sent to prison, despite the seriousness of his offending, as probation officials believe he can be worked with in the community.
The judge sentenced him to a community order for three years with group work programme requirements and supervision.
Maddison must sign the sex offenders’ register for five years and abide by a five year sexual offences prevention order.
Vince Ward, defending, said Maddison was “emotionally vulnerable” when he committed the offences, which all started when he began using internet chatrooms.