REGIONAL: Pervert, 56, sentenced after accessing child abuse images in sex offenders’ chat room

Richard Townsend
Richard Townsend

A MAN who accessed child abuse images through a video conferencing site used by fellow perverts has been sentenced after a National Crime Agency investigation.

Richard Townsend, 56, from Southampton, admitted one charge of encouraging the distribution of indecent images of children and a further six of accessing or downloading indecent images of children.

He was arrested after officers found he was behind a username in a chat room used by child sex offenders.

Forensic examination of Townsend’s devices discovered 159 indecent images of children. Police said 38 were graded among ‘the most serious categories’ of such material.

Officer also found messages written in the chat room by Townsend in response to the images he watched, including one which read: ‘Well trained boy’.

Townsend was given a two-year suspended prison sentence at Southampton Crown Court on Monday and placed on the sex offenders register for ten years.

He was also made subject to a ten-year sexual harm prevention order.

NCA operations manager Graham Ellis said: ‘For his own sexual gratification Townsend was watching images of children being abused.

‘Seeking out and accessing those images is another way of abusing the children who appear in them, sometimes years after the original assault took place.

‘All children have the right to feel safe and looked after. Anyone worried about the way they or a child they know has been treated, at any time, should call their local police.’

Townsend will also complete 260 hours unpaid work in the community and fulfil 60 days of rehabilitation to ‘address his offending behaviour’.

Townsend must sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years and is subject to a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years.

He must complete 260 hours unpaid work and a 60-day rehabilitation requirement.