By Tony Bugby at Minshull Street Crown Court
A MILLBROOK man, convicted to possessing indecent images of children, was labelled a ‘child abuser and paedophile’ after he was handed an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
Lee Hilton, 44, of Bramble Court, was told in no uncertain terms the repercussions of his actions by Judge Bernadette Baxter during sentencing at Minshull Street Manchester Crown Court.
She said: “They were real children being abused by adults to satisfy a market for you and your ilk.
“They are real children being abused and you are a child abuser and paedophile.”
Hilton had earlier pleaded guilty at Tameside Magistrates Court of making 251 Category A indecent images of children, 92 Category B of children, 72 Category C of children and 60 pornographic images including sexual activity involving a woman and dog.
Matthew Howarth, prosecuting, told the court the offences took place between 2013-19.
The National Crime Agency, he explained, had been alerted to Hilton’s actions.
Three devices were seized from his home and hundreds of images were found on a laptop. They featured adults and children, between the ages of two and 14, engaged in sexual activity.
Mr Howarth detailed some of the images including four video recordings of an adult having sex with a child aged between two and four years and children aged between five and seven involved in sexual activity.
He also explained Hilton was in chatroom networks to create and share images of children which he received by email.
Mr Howarth added there was no evidence Hilton had distributed the images.
Steven McHugh, defending, offered no excuses, saying: “This is not a case of mitigation. What he did was distasteful, and I am not trying to gloss over it. What he did was reprehensible.
“My client admitted the charges and did not dispute anything other than he didn’t face a distribution charge to which there was no evidence.
“He did what he did and arrived in court anticipating a custodial sentence.
“He lost his job when the court case came to light, despite having a good employment record.
“He accepts the repercussions and when it goes into the press, he may have to change his address.
“He was very candid in his interview for which credit should be given to him.
“He was a man of good character, single, with no dependents and I ask you to be lenient with him.”
Judge Baxter sentenced Hilton to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years.
He 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.
Hilton must also carry out 30 rehabilitation days and pay £340 costs.
The court also ordered the destruction of the devices which contained the offensive images.
Hilton was also warned by Judge Baxter if he breaks the terms of his sentence he will be brought back before the court and the prison term activated.