A teenager from Portsmouth who downloaded depraved videos of children being raped has walked free from court.
Chloe Dunn received ‘sick and perverted’ indecent moving images involving youngsters aged under five after she messaged an older man and said that she wanted to see images of child abuse.
The 19-year-old went on to engage in explicit online exchanges with Sheldon Bateson, 29, from Nelson, Lancashire, in which they referred to wanting to have sex with children.
Bateson was jailed for three years and four months after he pleaded guilty at Burnley Crown Court to distributing and possessing indecent images.
But Dunn, who admitted receiving some of the images, was handed a suspended sentence after Judge Beverley Lunt ruled it was ‘not appropriate’ to send her to immediate custody.
Judge Lunt pointed out there was currently no sex offender treatment programmes for women, which she labelled ‘short-sighted’, and there was no evidence to show Dunn knew beforehand how young the children were in the videos.
The judge noted her guilty plea, her previous good character and her immaturity. In mitigation, both the defendants said they were engaged in ‘fantasy roleplay’.
Judge Lunt told a tearful Dunn: ‘You would be extremely vulnerable in a custodial setting, even for a relatively short period. I am entirely satisfied it is not appropriate to send you to prison today.’
Dunn, of Eastern Road, received an eight-month sentence, suspended for two years, and was ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register. She was also told to attend a Women’s Programme, described by the Ministry of Justice as a ‘cognitive and motivational programme’.
The court heard that care worker Dunn and father-of-two Bateson had never met until their time in the dock.
Stephen Parker, prosecuting, said the pair exchanged messages via the WhatsApp service in April 2014 in which Dunn asked Bateson: ‘Have you got any videos?’
Bateson replied: ‘What?’, the court heard.
Dunn went on: ‘You know what.’
Bateson said: ‘Tell me.’
Dunn said: ‘Kids.’
The male defendant sent her six moving images, classed in the most serious category of indecent images, of young children being raped by adults.
Mr Parker said the pair went on to chat online about their desire to meet in person and have sex with children.
Their exchanges were uncovered when Bateson’s phone was later sold at a second-hand phone shop in his hometown last November.
The buyer handed the phone to police after he and a friend – who was physically sick – viewed the images.
The phone was traced to Bateson and it emerged he distributed 17 moving videos and numerous still images to a number of people he was in contact with on WhatsApp, but only Dunn’s phone had been identified by investigators.
Bob Elias, defending Bateson, told the court: ‘This was fantasy roleplay by the defendants. To fantasise is a human condition.’
Barry White, defending Dunn, said his client’s pre-sentence report had described her as ‘naive and vulnerable’.
Letters of reference from family and friends were handed to the judge including one from her ex-boss at a care home for people with mental health problems who said: ‘I feel that Chloe has just lost herself somewhere.’