A MAN who admitted downloading thousands of pictures and movies of child abuse has been spared jail.
Anthony Lawther had pleaded guilty to five counts of making indecent pictures and seven counts of possessing indecent images during a previous hearing at Southampton Crown Court.
But judge John Dixon rejected his sentencing guidelines of immediate imprisonment and instead gave Lawther a three-year community order. As part of the order he will be supervised by the probation service and must complete an internet sexual offenders treatment programme.
The 59-year-old had downloaded 7,216 still images during 2008 and 2009, including 49 showing the two worst levels of abuse. In the same time period he downloaded 488 moving images of child abuse, with 125 in the worst two categories.
He was arrested after Interpol contacted UK police in April 2009 with information that child pornography had been found on a server in Luxembourg, and it was traced back to an address that turned out to be Lawther’s home.
Judge Dixon, sitting at Winchester Crown Court, said: ‘These pictures are of real children, real people being foully abused and degraded by real adults.
‘And as long as there are people who obtain access to this material, there is a market to be satisfied by abusive adults the world over who inflict on these children the most awful indignities and abuses.’
The crown accepted that Lawther had not actively participated in creating or distributing the images.
The court heard how Lawther was described in a psychiatric report as not posing a risk to children in ‘the real world’.
The court heard that he expressed great remorse for his actions and had done it as he had been ‘lonely and retreated into nostalgia.’
Judge Dixon described Lawther as ‘hugely intelligent and educated’ and added: ‘I am confident of the shame and humiliation you must feel in front of family and friends.
‘I have as clear a picture of you as I can and it persuades me that what you need is help and guidance, not incarceration.’
Lawther, of Bishopsfield Road in Fareham, was also ordered to sign the sex offenders register for the next five years and must pay £500 costs.