A MAGICIAN has avoided jail after being caught with indecent images of children as young as five-years-old.
Jason Packer, 47, was convicted last month by a jury for making indecent photos of children, relating to 124 category A images, the most serious class of indecent pictures, and of possessing 85 images of extreme pornography.
The ex-member of the Justice and Anti-Corruption Party, a Portsmouth political group that claimed to be trying to stamp out wrong-doing in public office, protested his innocence throughout the trial, claiming the images related to research he had undertaken ahead of appealing a former conviction for having indecent images of children at a previous trial in 2015.
The magician, of Balliol Road, Buckland, believed his earlier conviction to have been a 'miscarriage of justice.'
His defence counsel Robert Bryan said in mitigation that Packer's actions had been 'misguided' and 'foolish.'
The entertainer had been given a 12-month jail sentence for his previous conviction after being convicted of four counts of possessing extreme pornography and 13 counts of possessing indecent images of children.
This morning, Judge Linda Sullivan QC gave Packer an 18-month jail sentence suspended for two years for one count of making indecent photographs of children and another count of possessing images of extreme pornography. No verdicts were reached on two other charges of making indecent images.
He was also ordered to abide to a strict curfew of between the hours of 8am and 8pm, was tagged and will carry out a requirement of 20 days of rehabilitation.
The computer on which the images were found has been forfeited and will be destroyed.
A spokesperson for the NSPCC said: 'Having previously been jailed for possessing child abuse images, Packer has shown a flagrant disregard for the law.
'Behind each and every child abuse image is a young victim who will need support to recover and Packer has fuelled the vile trade in these images.
'It is vital that he receives treatment and rehabilitation so that he no longer repeats his offences.'
Sarah Dineley, district crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: 'Jason Packer's behaviour is simply shocking.
'He knew very well that possessing extreme pornography and making indecent images of children were crimes.
'He committed these offences whilst on bail waiting to be sentenced having been convicted of four offences of possessing extreme pornography and 13 offences of making indecent images of children.
“During his first trial the jury at Portsmouth Crown Court heard how far-fetched Jason Packer’s defence was: He claimed that special agents working for a local MP had planted the images on his computer.
“Of course, this was a tissue of lies. When he was arrested for these new offences, he said he was researching the images for which he had been convicted, completely ignoring the fact that he was subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
'He decided to plead not guilty however the jury at Portsmouth Crown Court having heard evidence from the prosecution and then the defence was satisfied that he was guilty.
'Jason Packer and others who decide to commit these despicable crimes contribute to the sexual abuse of children.
'CPS Wessex and Hampshire Police will continue to work closely together to bring these offenders before the court.'