1 November 2017
A construction engineer has been sentenced after repeatedly watching the rape and sexual abuse of children in an online chat room.
Michael Sheehan, aged 54, possessed 981 illegal images of child abuse including 253 category A stills (the most serious) and nine category A videos.
He employed the usernames Maxx, New and Chaz to enter the chat-room 88 times between 22 July 2015 and 17 February 2016.
Every time he entered, pre-recorded abuse was shown.
Sheehan, of Luton, Bedfordshire, committed the offences between 2014 and August 2016 when he was arrested.
Today, at Luton Crown Court, he was sentenced to two years in jail suspended for two years.
He was also ordered to pay £4,000 to cover the costs of forensic examination of his computers.
Sheehan used The Onion Router – anonymising software – in a bid to hide his tracks but National Crime Agency officers seized two laptops, a desktop computer and storage devices where they found evidence.
They also discovered an application form for a secret paedophile club interested in image sharing and contact abuse and that Sheehan had discussed his interest in raping young boys and searched for, shared and encouraged others to use access codes to the chat room.
He admitted three counts of watching streamed child abuse; three counts of making indecent photographs/pseudo photographs of a child; possessing an extreme pornographic image and possession of a prohibited image of a child.
NCA senior investigating officer Matt Sutton said: “Sheehan sought out the horrific sexual abuse of children.
“He logged onto the streaming forum almost 90 times in seven months.
“Viewing abuse images is not victimless.
“Children are victimised to create the images and victimised every time those images are shared.
“Men like Sheehan are at the very centre of the problem by creating a market for that abuse.”
Sheehan was also placed on the sex offenders' register and given a sexual harm prevention order, both lasting for 10 years.