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A Kempshott man’s remorse, cooperation with police, and confessions, helped him avoid a prison sentence for sharing child pornography on the darknet. The Winchester Crown Court, on Thursday 14, heard how 27-year-old Nicolas James Bone visited sites on the darknet to download almost 60 illegal pictures and videos.

For effectively two reasons, Bone’s case vividly contrasts a recent case of the same nature in Virginia. On September 14, a Chesapeake man admitted to downloading more than 100,000 pictures and videos depicting child abuse. That case, still ongoing, spawned from a major Homeland Security Investigations operation. While the court did not reveal how law enforcement caught Nicolas James Bone, they did make an explicit note, pointing out the small number of illegal files Bone had downloaded.

More than a single discrepancy existed between Bone’s case and the majority of cases from other darknet child pornography investigations. In most cases—or at least most of the ones we know of—the defendant watched and downloaded material that disturbed the seasoned judge, or prosecution. Bone used the darknet to find a teenager. A young teenager, but a teenager nonetheless.

Of the 52 images on the defendant’s computer, only 11 fell into Category A. Five in Category B. And 36 in Category C. The majority of the images depicted sexual abuse of older children. While illegal, some of the ages would start petty technicality arguments. The 27-year-old father had looked for pictures of 15-year-old girls, he explained to police officers after his arrest.

The court heard how Bone found himself repulsed by the images of younger children. Christopher Wing, prosecution, said “[Bone] realised he got no sexual gratification for images of children under a certain age, and when watching a video of a quite young child that had been shared [with him], he threw up on his bed.”

Bone’s alleged disinterest did not outweigh the fact the he had both actively shared child abuse content and downloaded it for himself. However, Robin Sellers, defending, argued that a classic sentence would have been unfitting as the defendant had already fixed himself, for lack of better terminology.

Judge Jane Miller QC agreed. Bone’s confession, Judge Miller said, combined with his cooperation and incredibly low number of illegal pictures (relatively speaking), warranted a lesser penalty than convicted child pornography offenders in many cases. Bone will serve a 10 month sentence, suspended for two years. He will also be listed on the sex offender registry for five years.