21 March 2018
A man who accessed child abuse images on a video conferencing platform used by fellow offenders has been sentenced following a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation.
Richard Townsend, 56, from Southampton, had admitted one count of encouraging the distribution of indecent images of children and a further six of accessing or downloading indecent images of children.
Townsend was arrested after NCA officers found he was behind one of the usernames in a chat room used by child sex offenders.
Forensic examination of Townsend’s devices found 159 indecent images of children, of which 38 were in the most serious categories used to grade such material.
They 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 (19 March) 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.”
Online safety advice is available at www.thinkuknow.co.uk and the 24/7 NSPCC helpline is 0808 800 5000.