Northern Ireland

Killinchy man gets probation for child abuse images

A man who admitted downloading 258 indecent images of children has been placed on probation for three years.

Michael Stuart Jackson, 37, of Craigarusky Road in Killinchy, County Down, will also undergo an internet sex offenders treatment programme.

The images, some of which were extreme, were found in February 2013 by police who had seized his laptop computer in a file called 'Michael's downloads'.

His wife and two children also had access to the computer.

They have since moved overseas, the court heard.

A prosecution lawyer told Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, that Jackson had told police he had been browsing pornographic websites when images popped up from other sites he would not normally visit.

Legal highs

He admitted some of the images that "inadvertently" popped up were of children as young as 10, the court was told.

The court heard that when Jackson was interviewed a second time last August, he claimed he had been under the influence of drugs during the first interview and had given "incorrect answers to police".

However, he accepted that he had viewed images of children on the internet.

Jackson - who worked for his family's furniture business - subsequently pleaded guilty to seven counts of making indecent photographs of children, two counts of possessing indecent photographs of children and three counts of possessing an extreme pornographic image.

A defence lawyer told the court that while on the surface, Jackson had a good family background, he had "issues" with his father that led to his "issues about control", especially concerning his wife and children.

'Underlying deviancy'

He said that the pop-up images had "intrigued" Jackson, who "acknowledged thereafter that he searched for other images".

"He felt this gave him an element of control in that he could look at whatever he wished," the lawyer added.

He said Jackson had looked at the images after taking legal highs, and said his client's actions had "clear implications" for him and his family.

"He is far from proud at what he had done," the lawyer added.

Passing sentence, the judge said he accepted Jackson had displayed both a level of victim empathy and also embarrassment and remorse for his actions, and acknowledged his clear criminal record.

However, he said Jackson had "contributed" to the perpetuation of child sexual abuse where youngsters were subjected to acts of violence and depravity.

Placing him on probation, the judge said: "It is clearly apparent from your background and from the reports I have that programmes that exist are of a necessity for you to fulfil, in order that the underlying deviancy within your character which has led to these offences being committed needs to be addressed."

Jackson was also made the subject of a five-year sexual offences prevention order.