Report by Tony Bugby from Minshull Street Crown Court
A MAN from Denton, who kept a ‘library’ of images of children being abused, has been handed a 16-month suspended prison sentence.
Anthony Gilligan, 51, of Blithfield Walk, will be placed on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years and be the subject of a sexual harm prevention order for the same period of time.
Gilligan had earlier pleaded guilty at Tameside Magistrates Court of possessing 387 Category A still or moving images of children being abused, 265 Category B of children and 210 of extreme pornography.
He appeared before Minshull Street Manchester Crown Court for sentencing.
David Bruce, prosecuting, told the court the offences took place between 2009-18.
Police had been alerted that someone at his address had been using computers to download pictures of the abuse of children.
When a warrant was executed at his home, Mr Bruce explained various electrical devices and equipment was seized. Following examination the indecent and illegal images were discovered.
Mr Bruce said: “The vast majority of the images were accessible on those computers and laptops, though some were inaccessible.
“Some effort had been made to generate folders into which images were saved into, though there was no evidence they were shared.”
Mr Bruce described some of the content including a toddler aged between two and four years being raped by an adult male and a girl aged under 10 years having sex, adding the ages of the children featured were between two and 15 years.
He pointed out the extreme pornography included sexual activity involving a woman and a dog.
Alexandra Sutton, defending, said Gilligan apologised to the court.
Judge John Potter told Gilligan the offences passed the threshold for a custodial sentence.
As Gilligan had pleaded guilty, was in employment and reports suggested the prospects of rehabilitation were good, Judge Potter decided to pass a suspended sentence.
But he condemned Gilligan’s actions, explaining: “While none of the images show you abusing a child, your behaviour contributed towards the abuse of children.
“Your perverted sexual gratification creates a market for it to exist.
“People like you searching online lead to children being abused, filmed and photographed for people like you and for your own perverted sexual gratification.
“Your behaviour harms children who are being graphically abused in these images. If you don’t think it causes harm, you are mistaken.
“You were wrong, and the law recognises it. Custody ought to be imposed without significant mitigation.”
Judge Potter added the threshold was a 12 month custodial sentence but, because of the quantity of images, the age of the children and the lengthy period of time in which the material was downloaded he was considering increasing it to two years.
But given Gilligan’s guilty plea, he determined the sentence was 16 months suspended for two years.
Apart from being placed on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years and be the subject of a sexual harm prevention harm order for the same length of time, Gilligan must also undertake a rehabilitation course lasting 25 days, carry out 150 hours unpaid work and pay £330 prosecution costs.
The court also ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the devices which contained the offensive images.
Gilligan was also warned by Judge Potter that if he breaches any of the punishments he will be brought back to court and sent to prison immediately.