Paul Michael Berry, a former telecoms company employee, used the dark web to access the images – most of which included children under the age of ten. Detectives found a further 300 digital pictures of children doing gymnastics and ‘young people wearing leotards’ which he was not prosecuted for, the Royal Court heard.
The 55-year-old from St Lawrence admitted two counts of possessing 403 indecent images of children – including 32 that fell into the second most serious category – and was jailed for 20 months. He was placed on the Sex Offenders Register for five years and handed various restraining orders.
Berry, it was heard, had originally downloaded TOR – a portal to access the dark web – to view ‘real-time American drug busts’ and computer hacking videos. He later admitted that he enjoyed viewing pictures of ‘teenagers’.
Delivering the sentence, Commissioner Julian Clyde-Smith, presiding, said: ‘This is not a victimless crime. It is the case with images with a high Copine level that children would have been subject to the depraved sexual abuse shown in these images.’
After States police officers raided Berry’s home in March and he was arrested, the court heard, he was placed on ‘suicide watch at Orchard House’ soon after. Berry started to ‘panic’ when police arrived, it was heard, and after being cautioned told officers ‘there’s only a few’ in relation to images.
Outlining the case, Crown Advocate Matthew Maletroit, prosecuting, said officers seized 28 electronic devices from his home including computers and laptops but a special software called CCleaner had been installed on one computer and wiped over 17GB of data.
There was evidence that the software had also been used historically to wipe ‘tens of thousands’ of other files.
Advocate Maletroit said Berry told the police that he was ‘glad’ he got caught, as he ‘could not stop’.
Together with the 403 indecent images of children Berry was jailed for, detectives found 300 pictures of children doing gymnastics or wearing leotards, as well as another 200 images of ‘suspected children’. The defendant was not prosecuted for those images, as ages could not be proven.
Advocate David Steenson, defending, said his client was of good character and had been very co-operative with the police.
‘He feels an overwhelming sense of shame that he will have to live with for the rest of his life,’ Advocate Steenson said.
The lawyer appealed for the court to take into account the length of time Berry, who has no previous convictions, had spent on police bail before he was charged. He was arrested in March and did not appear in the Magistrate’s Court until November and has been in La Moye Prison on remand since 15 February.
‘It is a prison sentence in its own way,’ the advocate argued. He added that the delay was due to a lack of ‘public and police resources’.
Mr Clyde-Smith said the delay was ‘inevitable’ due to the need to examine 28 separate devices.
Jurats Jeremy Ramsden and Elizabeth Dulake were sitting.