A teenage sex offender who accessed and shared indecent material featuring children on the internet has admitted several offences after rapid police inquiries.

Owen Waterson was last month arrested after a search of his home in Darlington led to the seizure of two mobile phones and USB sticks.

Examination by Durham Police’s specialist Digital Intelligence and Investigation (DII) team revealed the devices collectively contained 141 indecent images and videos of children, with 90 ranked in the most serious category.

Following an intense 17-hour investigation, with the custody “time-clock” ticking, Waterson was charged with three counts each of possessing and distributing indecent images of children, two breaches of registration requirements as a sex offender, plus one breach of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

The 19-year-old defendant told police, in interview, that he accessed the material using a ‘dark web’ browser and engaged with like-minded individuals via online paedophile forums, where the images and videos were shared.

Waterson was remanded in custody and admitted all the offences at a subsequent magistrates’ court hearing.

He will be sentenced at Teesside Crown Court later this month.

Read more: Sex offender found with indecent images of children, again

Sergeant Simon Peele said: “Durham Constabulary takes a robust approach when dealing with dangerous offenders in our community.

“Officers responded to information that a man had committed a number of concerning online offences and both officers and our DII team worked tirelessly to secure nine charges and have the offender remanded into custody.

“Our officers and staff are always dedicated to keeping people safe and we will continue to take robust action against those who cause harm in our community and look to bring them to justice.”

He specifically praised the swift work on the case of detectives Pat Finn and Christine Ibinson.

Waterson, of Kitchener Street, will be sentenced on Friday July 22.

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