A former Southam man has escaped being jailed despite his large stash of child sex images being found by his ex wife in the loft of a house where he once lived.
And the police then discovered that as well as the many thousands of images on video tapes, memory sticks and his laptop, Michael Clarke had also secretly recorded two naked children.
But despite the huge number of images, he escaped being jailed after pleading guilty to seven charges of making indecent images of children, one of voyeurism and two of possessing extreme pornography.
Instead Clarke, 44, formerly of Deppers Bridge, was sentenced to 20 months in prison suspended for two years by a judge at Warwick Crown Court.
He was also ordered to take part in a ‘rehabilitation activity’ to address his behaviour and to register as a sex offender for five years.
Prosecutor Lisa Hancox said that Clarke and his wife, who he had married in 2005, were divorced in 2012.
In July last year she was clearing out the loft at the one-time matrimonial home when she came across two boxes in which she found a collection of old camcorder tapes, porn magazines – and a covert camera concealed in a clock.
She also found a small safe which, when it was opened by the police, was found to contain 18 video tapes and nine memory sticks.
Clarke was arrested and the police seized his laptop on which they found images graded as category C, showing children in naked or indecent poses without any actual sexual activity.
But the memory sticks were found to contain far more serious material, including images in categories A and B showing children being subjected to penetrative and non-penetrative sex acts, as well as extreme pornography showing acts of bestiality.
And on one of them a was recording Clarke had made himself of a young boy and a girl, aged between seven and 11, in swimming costumes and then getting undressed.
The 817 stills and 27 movies in category A included a girl of three or four being raped, another girl being digitally penetrated and a boy being orally raped.
There were also a total of 984 stills and 24 movies in category B, and 7,160 stills and 73 movies in category C.
When he was questioned Clarke claimed he had accidentally downloaded images of children while looking at legal porn sites, and that the recording he had made had been ‘innocent.’
But after speaking to his solicitor he admitted viewing child pornography for his sexual satisfaction, added Miss Hancox.
William Douglas-Jones, defending, asked the judge to follow a recommendation in a pre-sentence report ‘which at first blush may be considered unrealistic.’
He said Clarke had had ‘an incomplete sex life’ and mental health issues, and during a downward spiral in his life he had used pornography as an escape and moved on to the material in the charges, for which ‘he has expressed disgust with himself.’
And of the more serious category A and B images, Recorder Adrian Reynolds commented: “It was found in the loft of the house where his ex-wife lives, so he did not take it with him when he left, which suggests a lack of on-going interest.”
He told Clarke, who has now moved to another address: “Disgusting as your offending is, I am not intending to send you to prison.
“The author of the probation report has written you stated that at the time you did not think about the victims of these offences, but you now realise they will be affected for the rest of their lives.
“There is no ‘might’ about it, what you have been involved in does dehumanise children. To view a child as a sexual object is so perverted as to defy description.
“There is one reason, and one reason alone, why I’m not going to send you to prison - and that is because these offences happened a long time ago, and I’m persuaded you do not now have the disgusting interest in this type of material you had at the time.
“I have to take account of the fact that most of the serious material was left by you at your ex-wife’s house when you left, suggesting you did not have an ongoing interest in it.”