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Shropshire optician who had more than 6,000 indecent images of children given community order

By Rob Golledge | Shifnal | Crime | Published:

A Shropshire optician who had more than 6,000 indecent images of children on his devices has been given a community order.

Timothy Vanes, 62, escaped being jailed after a recorder was convinced that there was potential for him to be rehabilitated.

Vanes, of Summit Close in Shrewsbury, had run Tim Vanes Opticians in Shifnal since 1989 before it closed suddenly earlier this year, following his arrest. It is now open again under new management.

He was found to have thousands of videos and images of children as well as 78 pornographic images involving animals.

Vanes was sentenced on Friday at Shrewsbury Crown Court.

Prosecutor Mr Rob Edwards said that police raided Vanes' Shrewsbury home on May 14, 2018, after receiving a tip-off that his internet IP address had been used to download indecent images of children.

His devices were searched by a police forensics team who found that the images and videos mostly involved girls aged between 14 and 16.

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Aggravating factors according to the forensic examiner included "the high volume of images... the fact that the collection contained moving images and the large number of different victims", Mr Edwards told the court.

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The images were downloaded using a peer-to-peer file sharing service. More than 5,000 of them were of Category C, the least serious kind.

Vanes admitted to police that he downloaded the images of children but did not make any admissions regarding the animal images until a plea and trial preparation hearing at which he pleaded guilty.

Representing Vanes, Mr Rashad Mohammed told the court that the "trigger" for Vanes to download the images was loneliness and isolation resulting from an unhappy and "turbulent" marriage.

Mr Mohammed said that Vanes sought out "regular" pornography before "wrongly" clicking on links he saw for child pornography.

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"The defendant very much regrets his actions... he described how disgusted he was with himself," Mr Mohammed said.

"He tells me he loved the [optician] business which he established. He has been taken off the register as an optician, the business was sold at a loss."

Foundation

Vanes has used the services of the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, a charity dedicated to tackling child sexual abuse which also provides resources to help people who view sexual images of children change their behaviour.

Recorder John Benson QC heard the case and said that Vanes' cooperation with the police, his "genuine remorse" and his voluntary efforts to change his ways were encouraging, though he said that Vanes could have had no complaint if he went to jail for what he did.

He warned that the children being abused in the images were "victims in every sense of the word" and that the viewing habits of people like Vanes created a demand for it.

For three counts of possessing indecent images of children and one count of possessing an extreme pornographic image, Recorder Benson gave Vanes a community order comprising 100 hours of unpaid work and 35 rehabilitation activity days, to last two years.

He will also have to pay £1,200 in prosecution costs.

Rob Golledge

By Rob Golledge
@golledge_star

Part of the Express & Star special projects team responsible for investigations and major stories from politics to counter terrorism

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