A MAN viewed indecent films featuring children after installing software on his home computer to enable him to access the “dark net”, a court was told.

The software allowed Peter Angell to view material on the hidden internet not usually available to browsers online.

But his activities came to the attention of police, who, armed with a warrant, removed the equipment, including a lap-top and mobile phone, in a search of his home, in Spennymoor, County Durham, on April 11.

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Durham Crown Court heard that examination of their contents revealed 89 video clips and 142 still indecent images featuring children, mostly stored on the lap-top, but some on the phone.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said the moving images amounted to a total of seven-and-a-half hours of footage, featuring children in the range of about six to ten-years-old.

He was arrested and in interview denied having a sexual interest in children, claiming he sought the offending material, “out of curiosity”.

Angell told police he read about the “dark net” in a magazine and set about fitting the software to access it, which took two weeks to install.

Angell, 39, now of Church Street, Coundon, near Bishop Auckland, admitted 16 charges of making indecent pictures of a child, plus one ‘roll up’ count each of possessing the moving and still images.

Tom Mitchell, mitigating, told the court Angell is of previous good character and, referring to his probation pre-sentence report, stated that he is not considered to pose a great threat to children.

He added that installing the software to access the “dark net” was not as complex as painted by the prosecution.

Judge Colin Burn told Angell: “It’s the quantity of material rather than the length of the clips that demonstrates there’s a problem.

“You’ve watched those images of real children being really abused for the entertainment, titillation or the gratification of those making them or sharing them with others.

“For every individual who possesses this material there are tens and hundreds of children in far flung corners of the world being horribly abused.

“By downloading these images you’re providing a market and in doing so perpetrating the trade in such images.”

He imposed a 12 month prison sentence, suspended for two years to enable Angell to undergo a sex offender treatment programme under the supervision of the Probation Service.

Angell was also made subject of a five-year sexual offences prevention order, restricting future contact with children and limiting internet access, while he must register as a sex offender for ten years.

Judge Burn also ordered forfeiture and destruction of his computer equipment.