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Telford child porn man spared jail term

Telford | News | Published:

A website designer was caught with more than 650 indecent images of children on his computer – just seven years after being jailed for grooming a 14-year-old girl for sex on the internet, a court heard.

But despite John Tovey's previous conviction and relapse, Judge Peter Barrie opted not to send the 44-year-old back to prison when he appeared at Shrewsbury Crown Court yesterday.

He will also be allowed to still use computers and access the internet – as long as he does not delete the web histories on them.

The court heard Tovey used all his technical expertise to try and keep the images a secret – including saving them onto a separate removable hard drive and using hi-tech software to wipe internet histories.

But police discovered 655 indecent images after raiding the house he shared with his mother in Corfield Crescent, Oakengates, Telford, in May 2012 and seizing his laptop computer.

Tovey had protested his innocence right up until the day of his trial, claiming the images must have already been on the computer when he bought it. But, after a jury was sworn in, he changed his plea to guilty to two counts of making indecent images of children just before the trial was about to start.

The court heard Tovey had been jailed for three-and-a-half years back in 2007 for engaging in sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl from London he had met and groomed on the internet.

But despite that, Judge Barrie decided against prison and instead sentenced Tovey to a three-year community order.

It will include carrying out 240 hours of unpaid work and attending the community sex offender group workshop programme, as well as being supervised by the probation service.

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Sentencing Tovey, Judge Barrie said: "You stand here today a hair's breadth away from immediate custody."

Mrs Debra White, for Tovey, said the "great majority" of the images were at Level 1 in terms of seriousness, with one being the least and five the worst.

She said her client had struggled for many years with mental health problems.

"It is when he has had difficulties like this that he has gone on to use this material," Mrs White said.

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