Child porn shame of ex-Hartlepool youth hostel worker

Teesside Crown Court

Teesside Crown Court

A former youth hostel volunteer downloaded dozens of indecent images of children from the internet.

Loner Alan Wood claimed he looked at the pictures and videos because he was bored.

The 62-year-old was caught after police received information that a computer registered to him was being used to download images, Teesside Crown Court heard.

“A search warrant was executed at what turned out to be his former address,” said Rachel Masters, prosecuting.

“Police obtained his current address, and searched that, where they found a Sony laptop. Wood later voluntarily attended the police station and gave officers a USB memory stick.”

The court heard the laptop and memory stick were found to contain a mixture of moving and still indecent images of children.

“There were 10 at the most serious category A, 71 at category B, and 42 at category C,” said Ms Masters.

“When interviewed, Wood said he looked at other pornography as well, doing so when he was bored.”

Wood, 62, of Burbank Court, Hartlepool, admitted three charges of making indecent images of children in June of last year.

He was of previous good character.

Christine Egerton, defending, said in mitigation: “Mr Wood has never troubled the courts until today, and he has worked most of his life in catering and security.

“He volunteered at youth hostels, and also had an interest in cycling.

“He has resigned all his positions pending the outcome of this case.

“Mr Wood has never married, has had few relationships, and lives something of an isolated life.

“He cannot really say why he downloaded the images, but does have some understanding of the harm those that look at the images do by encouraging others to abuse children.”

Judge Peter Armstrong sentenced Wood to eight months in prison, suspended for two years, including a sex offender treatment programme, and 35 days of rehabilitation activity.

Judge Armstrong said Wood had ‘distorted thinking’.

He told Wood: “It is better for the community that you receive some treatment to address your distorted thinking, which you wouldn’t get if I sent you to immediate custody.

“Your frankness with the police, guilty pleas, previous good character, and what I have read about you in the pre-sentence report enable me to suspend the sentence.”

Wood was made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years, which limits his internet use.

He must register as a sex offender for 10 years, and is banned from working with children in either a paid or voluntary capacity.

Wood’s computer and USB stick were confiscated and will be destroyed.