Exmouth businessman admits downloading sex abuse images of kids

PUBLISHED: 12:47 31 July 2018 | UPDATED: 12:47 31 July 2018

Exeter Crown Court.

Exeter Crown Court.

Archant

A businessman from Exmouth who downloaded images of children as young as four suffering serious sexual abuse has been sent on a sex offenders’ course.

Builder John Leigh used some of the indecent images to pose as a 14-year-old girl in online chat rooms where he shared domination fantasies with other men.

He downloaded images of teenage girls and then used them to set up false profiles, including one in which he claimed to be a 14-year-old called Tina.

Father-of-five Leigh created several false profiles and shared fantasies about abusing young girls with chat room users, even though they were completely untrue.

Leigh, aged 55, of Victoria Road, Exmouth, admitted making and possessing indecent images of children and was jailed for 16 months, suspended for two years; he was ordered by Judge David Evans at Exeter Crown Court to attend a sex offenders’ course as part of 30 days of rehabilitation activities.

He was also put on the sex offenders’ register and made subject of a sexual harm prevention order, which enables the police to monitor his internet use.

The judge told Leigh: “It is difficult to understand how any intelligent and reasonable human would put their own sexual gratification above the suffering of tiny children, but you did it again and again and again.”

The judge questioned why the Crown Prosecution Service had not charged Leigh with the more serious offence of distributing indecent images, which he had admitted in interview.

Miss Anita Noerr, prosecuting, said Leigh’s home was raided after police were alerted to his activity in internet chat rooms.

They found 87 images or movies, including 11 stills and four movies, which showed very serious abuse of children as young as four by adults.

Miss Noerr said: “Leigh told police his addiction to pornography escalated to dramatic heights when he started conversing with others in chat rooms and on Skype.

“There were messages on private chats and group chats in which he received abusive images of children.

“Many were downloaded under pseudonyms. He purported to be teenaged girls and sent images between November 2012 and November 2016.”

He sent indecent pictures he had downloaded from the internet, images of himself in women’s clothing and a non-sexual image of a girl.

He also invented false stories about abusing an underage girl, which he shared in chat rooms.

Mr Mark Jackson, defending, said Leigh has never been in trouble before and retains the support of his family.

He has already started private counselling and a course with the Lucy Faithfull Foundation to address his use of pornography and is keen to work with the probation service.

The risk of future offending would be tackled more effectively by treatment in the community rather than prison, the court was told.

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