Wheathampstead man caught with 60,000 indecent images of children

St Albans County Court

St Albans County Court - Credit: Archant

Almost 60,000 child sex abuse images were found after police broke into a man’s flat, a court heard last week.

Neal Santelli, 34, who lived in High Street, Wheathampstead at the time of the raid, pleaded guilty to eight charges of possessing and downloading indecent images and movies of children.

St Albans Crown Court heard that Santelli was arrested in June last year and admitted that he had been looking at indecent images of children for the past six years.

Prosecutor, Peter Shaw, said that a confiscated laptop and computer belonging to Santelli was found to have tens of thousands of images of child abuse. The court also heard that Santelli had used the search terms ‘pre-teen’, ‘sexy pre-teen’ and ‘young girl models’.

According to Mr Shaw, Santelli. now of Fulmodeston, Norfolk, had been “frank and open” in his police interview and explained that he had been mainly interested in girls in erotic poses between the ages of 11 and 14.

Alex Britton, defending, told the court that Santelli had been extremely frank with the police for the moment of his arrest and had taken full responsibility for his actions.

He also argued that “ninety-nine point nine” per cent of the images discovered were at the lowest level and urged the judge to pass a community order so Santelli would have the chance to seek treatment.

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Sentencing Santelli to a three-year community order with 36 months’ supervision and a condition that he attends the integrated sex offender treatment programme and pay £300 in costs, Judge Stephen Warner told him: “Your activities provided a market for this sort of material, which involves the abuse and exploitation of young, vulnerable children.

“But public protection is better afforded by allowing you to attend a course to get treatment for the underlying problems that cause these offences.”