Paedo with asthma spared jail because he would be a ‘vulnerable prisoner’

A pensioner who developed an obsession with "very serious” child abuse images has been spared jail after a court heard that he suffered from asthma.

Seventy-year-old John Scargill was arrested in February 2019 after police found 48 category A images (the most extreme kind), 51 category B images and 69 category C images and videos depicting child abuse on devices belonging to Scargill.

Michele Stuart Lofthouse, prosecuting, told Hull Crown Court that Scargill would often engage in sickening "chats" with another paedophile on the internet and the perverted pair would discuss their sexual fantasies involving children.

Judge David Tremberg told Scargill his offending was "very serious.”

Mitigating, David Godfrey told the court that if punished by way of an immediate prison sentence, Scargill would be a "vulnerable" prisoner due to his ongoing health issues.

The court was told Scargill suffers from asthma, type 1 diabetes, COPD, a hernia and hearing loss among numerous other illnesses and conditions, reports Hull Live.

Mr Godfrey said: "He is a rather isolated man who lives in assisted accommodation. He only has some contact with a sister and turned to the world wide web for solace and that is where his offending developed.

"He has problems with his heart and is hard of hearing and would find custody very difficult. He would be a vulnerable prisoner by virtue of his underlying health condition."

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Mr Godfrey told the court that during an appointment with the author of his pre-sentence report, Scargill told how he was "ashamed of his actions."

"He has exposed his shame," Mr Godfrey added, "They had a discussion about the effect this type of offending has on those children in the pictures and videos and this is something he is affected by and he feels ashamed and repulsed by his behaviour.

"He is very, very sorry for what he has done."

Scargill has a previously unblemished record and the probation service determined him to be at low risk of re-offending or causing the public harm.

Judge Tremberg made Scargill the subject of a 10-year sexual harm prevention order and ordered him to sign the Sex Offenders' Register for a period of 10 years, but spared him an immediate prison sentence.

He told him: "You fall to be sentenced for making 48 category A, 51 category B and 69 category C indecent images of children, possession of prohibited images of a child and possession of still or moving images of children between May 2012 and February 2019.

"In many respects, this is a serious and troubling case. You had lived a life unblemished but in your later years at a time when you had poor health you became isolated and sexually frustrated, and sought out internet porn and you got an interest that became an obsession in child pornography which saw you engaging in fantasy chat with a like minded person.”

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Judge Tremberg reminded Scargill of the very real effects on the children involved in the creation of child pornography.

He told him: "However long they live they will know somewhere across the world there will be a pervert masturbating to images they have no control over and that is disgraceful.

"You have been full of shame and self-loathing and rightly so and that is an important factor moving forward."

The judge handed Scargill a 12 month sentence suspended for two years.

Scargill must obey the terms of his Sexual Harm Prevention Order which include not deleting any search history and making the authorities aware of any device within three days of purchasing it.

If he breaks those terms, he could end up serving a prison sentence of up to five years.

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