A Leamington quantity surveyor carried out internet searches for indecent images of children on his family’s computer while it was logged on with his son’s password.
But when the police turned up at their home and seized the notebook computer, John Healy immediately admitted he had been responsible, a judge at Warwick Crown Court has heard.
Healy, 52, of Queensway, Leamington, who pleaded guilty to three charges of making indecent images of children, was given an eight-month prison sentence suspended for two years.
He was also ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work, to take part in a rehabilitation activity for 30 days, and to register as a sex offender for ten years.
Prosecutor Ian Windridge said that in March last year the police went to Healy’s home, having received information that the address had a link to the downloading of child pornography.
Healy was not there, but his wife was at home, and he was contacted and returned shortly afterwards and was arrested, and a notebook computer and two phones were seized.
When he was interviewed, Healy admitted using online chat rooms where he discussed having sex with girls and well as with older women.
He said it was the family notebook, but that each member of the family had their own log-in details.
On the computer officers found internet search terms which included ‘free child porn’ and ‘10-year-old girl,’ and Mr Windridge said: “What was concerning was that the search terms were linked to the log-in of his son.”
But Healy accepted being responsible for the searches, and said his son must have left his account logged in when he then began using the notebook himself.
Mr Windridge said the computer contained 17 category A indecent images of girls aged from 5 to 11 being subjected to penetrative sex acts, including full intercourse with adult men.
There were 25 category B images of girls involved in non-penetrative sex acts, and 43 category C images of girls in naked or indecent poses.
And it was found the images had been downloaded over a period from October 2012 until Healy’s arrest in March last year.
Mr Windridge asked for the computer, on which the images were found, and one of the phones, which had been used to access chat rooms where child pornography was discussed, to be forfeited, pointing out that nothing had been found on Healy’s work phone.
Jason Pegg, defending, said Healy was ‘a hard-working professional man,’ who Recorder Stuart Sprawson observed earns £60,000 a year, of previous good character.
“He appears before you today utterly ashamed to be before this court.
“This offending was very much out of character.
“It is best described as a hidden secret.
“He is a man who for some time had accessed adult pornography.
“He describes having a pornography addiction.
“To his credit, he candidly told probation that in order to obtain sexual relief, he turned his attention towards images of young girls.
“He is aware the girls in those images were subjected to abuse.
“At the time he fantasised about having sexual activity with young teenage girls.”
But Mr Pegg said that following his arrest Healy realised he needed help, and has since attended 31 counselling sessions ‘to address the reasons why he felt the need to access such images.’
Sentencing Healy, and ordering the forfeiture of the computer and one phone, Recorder Sprawson told him: “You have made these images for your own gratification.
“You have always been candid and frank in accepting your responsibility, although in your interview with the probation service you said you thought the children were enjoying themselves because they were smiling.
“Viewing these images involves the continued exploitation of young children.”