A YOUNG girl was offered money to send naked images of herself during an internet ‘chat’ with a teenage student in the North-East.

Police found evidence of sexually-explicit email conversations, along with indecent images of children and extreme pornography, on examination of Ian Cook’s lap-top computer.

Durham Crown Court heard that, “acting on information”, officers from the safeguarding children unit visited his home, in Seaham, in September.

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Adrian Dent, prosecuting, said the lap-top was seized and the offending material, including 94 “extreme pornographic” images, showing scenes of bestiality, was subsequently revealed.

“Evidence was found of sexual conversations from a number of email addresses,” Mr Dent told the court.

“They included one in which the defendant offered money for sexual images of a 14-year-old girl from elsewhere in the country.”

Mr Dent said Cook told police he was sexually gratified by viewing images of teenage girls, but he claimed he merely downloaded the bestial scenes “out of curiosity”.

Nineteen-year-old Cook, of Dovedale Court, admitted four charges each of possessing indecent images of a child and possessing extreme pornography, plus one count of inciting a child to commit a sexual act.

Andrew Walker, for Cook, said sentencing guidelines suggest a non-custodial penalty could be imposed in such cases, with the incentive of providing community-based sex offender treatment.

He told the court that the incitement charge just applied in Cook’s case, as he was only 12 days past his 18th birthday when it was committed.

Mr Walker said it is not classed as an offence if the perpetrator is aged under 18.

Imposing a three-year community order, Judge Christopher Prince said it would offer more protection to the public as Cook would receive the necessary sex offender treatment.

He told Cook: “I could ignore the guidelines and send you to prison.

“But I have only one concern, to offer long-term protection to the public.

“It will be best achieved by you undertaking the full sex offender treatment programme.”

He ordered confiscation of the hard-drive on which the images were found.

Cook must now register as a sex offender for the next five years.