A Croatian man working in the North East has been jailed over ‘utterly repellent’ child abuse videos found on his home computer equipment.

As Marko Istvanic was said to have downloaded the illicit material using peer-to-peer software, it meant they could be accessed by other like-minded users, who did so, on at least 16 occasions.

Durham Crown Court was told that acting on information, police visited Istvanic at his workplace, and then at his home address, in Stanley, at the time, on March 31, 2021.

Officers removed a computer and computer tower for examination, which revealed a number of offending images had been downloaded using the peer-to-peer software.

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Lewis Kerr, prosecuting, said 15 images and videos were found in category A, the most serious classification, plus three in category B, while six class A images were available for distribution, and had been accessed 16 times.

Mr Kerr said the category A material, some videos of more than an hour and 33-minutes in length, was considered to feature “the worst kind of images” showing, amongst others, adults sexually abusing children.

When interviewed Istvanic claimed he was not sexually interested in children but conceded he had become addicted to viewing the images.

Mr Kerr said the defendant admitted having downloaded and viewed the images, then deleted them, before later re-downloading them to view again on a number of occasions.

Istvanic, 35, of Eglesfield Road, South Shields, admitted two counts of making indecent images of children and one of distribution of such images.

Neil Bennett, in mitigation, said unlike many such cases which come before the courts, there were relatively few images downloaded and viewed by the defendant, while, due to the nature of the software, the distribution element did not require a deliberate act on the defendant’s part.

“But, he was aware that others would have accessed them.”

Mr Bennett said the defendant has no previous convictions and has been “socially isolated”, having been born without fingers on one hand, which has brought about a lack of self-confidence and an inability to form relationships.

“Against that background, he developed an addiction to adult pornography and that has led to this unhealthy interest in seeking out this material.”

Mr Bennett said it is 18 months since the offences were committed and the defendant has gone back to Croatia to visit his family with the case hanging over him, but each time has returned to the UK.

Read more: County Durham man uploaded indecent images of children on Reddit site

Judge James Adkin said the software on the defendant’s computer enabled “other paedophiles across the world” to view images on his computer, which he described as, “utterly repellent”, with some of great length in duration.

He imposed a two-year prison sentence, which he said, as a deterrent, he could not suspend.

The judge made Istvanic subject to registration as a sex offender and the terms of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, both for ten years.

Judge Adkin also ordered confiscation and destruction of the seized computer equipment.

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