AN “immature” teenager, who downloaded more than 220 indecent images of children from the internet, shared some with two other people in online chats, a court heard.

Acting, “on information received”, police visited Samuel Kettell’s home on June 9, 2020, and asked to view his electronic devices.

The then 19-year-old asked to speak to one of the detectives and confessed he had accessed indecent images of children.

Durham Crown Court was told examination of a phone and lap-top computer recovered revealed a total of 227 offending images, including 99 stills and eight videos in the most serious category for such material.

Jonathan Gittins, prosecuting, said some were initially inaccessible, while others were hidden in a music app.

It was discovered that nine of the images were shared with other people in online chats earlier that year.

Although in subsequent police interviews he gave “no comment” replies to police, the now 21-year-old defendant, of Hill Rise, Peterlee, admitted three counts each of possessing and distributing indecent images in all three categories of severity, when he appeared before magistrates.

Michael Cahill, in mitigation, told the court: “This is a young man who had the good sense to plead guilty at the earliest opportunity at court.

“He has primarily possessed these images rather than being a serial distributor of them.

“He fully co-operated with police and provided the passwords for these devices from the off.

“I understand these offences cross the custodial threshold, but the Probation Service has said there is a structured programme to deal with him, and he wants to comply with that as he wants to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Mr Cahill added that the defendant, who he said, “presents as rather child-like”, has had some "medical interventions" to address while waiting for the case to be dealt with for nearly two years.

Read more: Maths master who collected indecent child images given lifetime prohibition from teaching

Judge Robert Spragg agreed that the case should have been concluded before now, but said, given his lack of previous offences and guilty pleas, he could suspend the 16-month prison sentence for two years.

But Kettell must complete a sex offender group work programme, undergo 40 rehabilitation activity days with the Probation Service and carry out 100 hours’ unpaid work in that time.

He will also be subject to restricted internet access and use as part of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, while he will have to register as a sex offender, both for ten years.

The judge also ordered forfeiture and destruction of the seizede devices.

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