Jail for paedophile who possessed 12,000 sexual images of children

PUBLISHED: 19:08 13 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:22 06 May 2010

A PAEDOPHILE who possessed a total of 12,000 images and films of child abuse has been sentenced to eight months in prison. Mark Pratt s house in Thirlmere Drive, St Albans, was raided by police in March of last year and they uncovered the indecent materi

A PAEDOPHILE who possessed a total of 12,000 images and films of child abuse has been sentenced to eight months in prison.

Mark Pratt's house in Thirlmere Drive, St Albans, was raided by police in March of last year and they uncovered the indecent material - ranging from level one to five in severity - on his computer and various disks.

An examination of the 39-year-old's computer revealed that he had searched the internet for pre-teen material, used file-sharing networks and sent three child abuse images in an e-mail dated April 2004.

When interviewed following his arrest, Pratt immediately admitted using the computer, viewing the images and saving them, but couldn't provide any reason for his actions.

He refused to comment regarding the distribution of images via email.

Pratt pleaded guilty to 18 counts relating to possessing and downloading the indecent material and one charge of distributing the images at an earlier hearing.

He appeared at St Albans Crown Court on Friday for sentencing.

Defending, Neil Fitzgibbon told the court that Pratt was currently on medication due to depression caused by the case and said that he was in the process of securing counselling.

He said of Pratt: "He cuts a rather pathetic figure - he has no social life and having done a day's work as a dustman, idle curiosity lead him down the route he is now in."

He added: "This man has pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity and it's fair to say he is obviously concerned for his own future and his mother's, and the overall affect this is going to have on his family with this conviction being known in the local community."

Mr Fitzgibbon emphasised that Pratt had no intention of ever getting involved with computers again, which mediated the potential risk of him re-offending.

Passing sentence, Judge Martin Griffith said: "I saw the material this morning and a noticeable number of those children are not teenage children. There are a large number of very young children which, to my mind, makes this case all the worse."

He emphasised the need to consider the affect on the children in the photographs and said he would be failing in his duty unless he gave Pratt an immediate custodial sentence.

An eight-month prison sentence was given, half of which must be spent in jail, and a sexual offences prevention order was imposed on Pratt which means he cannot own or use any computer or device allowing him access to the internet.

He will also be placed on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years and is prohibited from working with children indefinitely.

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