Shrewsbury lorry driver with almost 35,000 child sex images is spared prison
A Shrewsbury lorry driver who was caught with nearly 35,000 indecent images of children at his home has been spared a jail term.
Derek Lowther told police he had amassed the collection of pictures over a two-year period because he was carrying out his own investigations into who was producing the images, with a view to presenting the evidence to police.
But Judge Peter Barrie, sitting at Shrewsbury Crown Court, said he "did not for a minute" accept Lowther's explanation, which he said was given out of "shame and remorse".
The 50-year-old, from Belle Vue, had previously admitted charges of making indecent images of children, possessing extreme pornographic images, and possessing a prohibited image of a child.
He appeared in court yesterday to be sentenced to a 12-month community order, which will include 20 days of rehabilitation activity.
Miss Samantha Powis, prosecuting, said Lowther's home was raided by police as part of Operation Safenet, a joint police operation between West Mercia Police and Staffordshire Police to crack down on child sex exploitation online.
The prosecutor told the court two tablets, a laptop and a memory stick were taken away for examination.
A total of 20,142 pictures and clips were found on the laptops and tablets, of which 950 were at the most serious category A.
Miss Powis said a further 14,746 were found to have been deleted from the memory stick, of which nearly 600 were in the most serious bracket.
She said some of the children in the images were described as aged one or under.
The prosecutor said: "We would treat the research explanation with a degree of scepticism.
"It was the view of the investigating officers that this was a personal collection of viewable pornography put into files," Miss Powis added.
Mr Stephen Scully, for Lowther, accepted his client, who he said was a loner who enjoyed his own company, was "somewhat in denial".
"He accepts the offences, on the basis of the sheer volume and the period of collection, that I don't think he could have possibly looked at all of them."
Sentencing Lowther, Judge Barrie said: "You accumulated a very large collection of indecent photographs of children, over a period of time of at least two years.
"Many of them were at the most serious level.
"These are not victim-free offences.
"I don't for one minute accept the explanation you gave to police. I think it is an indication of the shame and remorse you felt at the kind of things you were looking at on your computer.
"But I think the public interest would be best served by making sure, through the support of the probation service, that you do not return to committing these kinds of offences."
Lowther was also ordered to pay £535 towards court costs of bringing the case.
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