Sex offender caught with 2,700 child abuse images spared jail to tackle his ‘deviance’

A sex offender who had more than 2,700 child abuse images has been allowed to keep his freedom so he can tackle his “deviance”.

Michael Tomkins had a collection of illegal pictures of boys and girls between 18 months and 16 years old on his two computers and iPhone.

“It was me,” the 25-year-old confessed when police inquired at his home on Connaught Road, West Lane, Middlesbrough about images downloaded from the internet.

Officers found 2,726 child abuse images including films, one of which lasted more than an hour, on his computer equipment, Teesside Crown Court heard today.

There were 595 pictures at the most serious level of children aged 10 to 15, some of the children bound with rope while being abused.

He admitted three offences of making indecent photographs of children between March 2008 and September 2015 and one of possessing an extreme pornographic image – his first crimes.

He still denied having any sexual interest in children and claimed he acted out of curiosity. A probation report said he minimised his actions.

Andrew Coleman, defending, said: “He is incredibly shameful for his actions.

“He shamefully says it’s ruined his life. He wants to understand this. He wants to get this to stop.”

He said Tomkins did not deny or play down his behaviour but struggled to open up about it, possibly due to shame about his bisexuality.

He argued rehabilitation and treatment in the community – which Tomkins could not get in a prison sentence – would benefit the public.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, told Tomkins his crimes were not victimless: “There are a large number of victims. The victims are those children who are portrayed in the still and moving images because they are forced to carry out those acts.

“They are forced into that because there is a market, sadly, for such images, for people like you.

“The moving images are graphic and prolonged.”

He said there was no evidence Tomkins wanted to carry out such child abuse himself.

But he expressed concern at Tomkins’ “complete failure – and this is a common thread in such cases – by you to accept and acknowledge your deviance”.

“You deny any sexual interest in male children,” added the judge.

“You say quite falsely that you were getting these images out of curiosity. That is quite wrong.”

He agreed with the defence and probation officer that the public was served by a treatment programme which would monitor Tomkins.

Tomkins was given a one-year jail term suspended for two years with a sex offender treatment programme, 35 days’ rehabilitation activity, a six-month tagged curfew and an indefinite sexual harm prevention order.

An NSPCC spokesman said today: “The sheer number of horrific abuse images in Tomkins’ possession underlines the seriousness of his offending. Every single one of these images is a visual record of a serious sexual assault against a child.

“Downloading the pictures fuels the demand for more to be created and victims are also effectively re-abused each time these images are accessed.

“It is estimated that around half a million men in the UK today may have accessed child sexual abuse images online and the work of government, law enforcement, internet companies and others must continue to tackle this growing problem.”

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