On September 12, Teesside Crown Court heard Alan Walton explain his reasons for downloading more than 1,000 pictures that depicted child abuse. He had grown obsessed with the darknet where he downloaded the images to “storage devices” linked to a phone found at Walton’s home. According to the defense, it all started with a YouTube video.
The prosecutor, Rachel Masters, told Teesside Crown Court how the defendant had downloaded 1,115 “indecent photographs.” The investigation into Walton began after an entity reported that someone—possibly Walton himself—had sent these “indecent photographs” to Walton’s own email. At some point during the investigation, the police confirmed that his email account had received “child pornography” from a source the prosecutor never disclosed.
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Not only had Walton downloaded the images, but he had also discovered and downloaded a 170-page guide on having sex with children. The guide covered so-called “safe sex” with children. The “guide” sounded similar to a guide written by “Britain’s worst pedophile,” Richard Huckle. Australia’s Taskforce Argos infiltrated the former CP forum known as “The Love Zone” to catch Huckle. The forum had one guide titled “the exclusive step by step guide for practicing safe and fun sex with children.” Huckle published one of his own titled “Paedophiles and Poverty: Child Lover Guide.”
Police caught Huckle after he touched the ground in Britain, following his identification in Malaysia. Finish that story here: “How Police Infiltrated a Darknet Forum to Hunt Down Pedophiles.”
Walton and Huckle, according to the prosecutors in both cases, were two vastly different creatures. Huckle went down for an array of child-abuse related crimes, but Walton had only downloaded imagery and a guide. (Only used in contrast with Huckle’s crimes.) When police raided the defendant’s house, they found a Samsung smartphone and associated storage mediums. Those storage mediums contained the pictures and the guide.
The phone held 346 images in Category A, the most serious classification of child abuse images. 306 in Category B. And 463 in Category C. The 32-year-old defendant pleaded guilty to three charges of possessing child pornography and one charge of possessing the abuse manual. Prosecutor Masters said, “the defendant pleads guilty on the basis he thought the images were codes for online gaming.” In reference to the defense’s argument, she added that “he said he wanted the manual to better understand things that had happened to him as a child.”
John Nixon, the defense council, said:
“Many of the images were duplicate, which means the number of unique images was much smaller. Mr Walton had a dreadful upbringing, and now lives an isolated existence, he is something of a loner. After watching a YouTube video, he became obsessed with what is called the dark web.”
The judge overseeing the hearing listened to Walton’s explanation and sentenced the man to 13 months in prison, and a sentence suspended for two years with 35 days of sexual rehabilitation. “The fact you did not actively search for child abuse images is significant, and I accept you suffered as a child at the hands of another,” the judge said.