Beach pervert snared by landmark in photo

Seaton Carew clock tower
Seaton Carew clock tower

A SICK amateur photographer who posted 6,500 images of children on a Russian porn site was snared after a Hartlepool landmark was recognised in some of the images.

Warped Michael Carruthers (left) stalked the beaches of Hartlepool looking for youngsters to snap without their or their families’ knowledge.

The 45-year-old factory worker’s antics were uncovered after an internet porn watchdog flagged up Carruthers, who had posted the huge amount of images on the Russian website where perverts posted and swapped sick images.

Seaton Carew’s distinctive clock tower was recognised among the images uploaded by Carruthers and led police to him.

Carruthers, who admitted a string of internet indecency charges is now starting a 32-month jail sentence.

Teesside Crown Court heard how analysis of Carruthers’ computer equipment also revealed he had downloaded scores of other indecent images of children, including around 350 at the most serious levels of four and five on the criminal scale.

The court heard Carruthers uploaded pictures of very young children he was not attracted to to the website just to gain credibility and to trade in images with other perverts.

Carruthers, formerly of Wharton Terrace, Hartlepool, admitted 13 charges of making indecent images of children, eight of taking indecent images and three of distribution.

Jolyon Perks, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court, said: “Local police officers were contacted by the Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre in relation to the Russian photographic site.

“They suspected that there were some children living within Cleveland, in particular Hartlepool, who may well have been victims of that site by having their photos displayed by that site.

“In one of the folders that was accessible a local clock tower was identified as the one on Tees Road, Seaton Carew.”

It led to the parents of the children originally being arrested and questioned. But they were released without charge after Carruthers was brought in for questioning and confessed to everything.

Mr Perks added: “The defendant told police that he was responsible for all the images that had been found in the directory on the Russian website and he had been attracted to young children for years.

“He described a fascination with photography in general and had used his camera at every opportunity.

“He admitted to uploading in excess of 6,500 images which were available to others.”

All of the pictures of children taken by Carruthers were at the lowest level of seriousness.

Richard Herrmann, mitigating, said Carruthers, of Galt Street, Durham City, accepted he needed help and had shown remorse from the start.

Mr Herrmann said: “Its despicable, appalling behaviour and there is nobody more aware of that than the defendant.

“This is a man who is crying out for help. He said to me ‘all my life I have wished that I could get help, it’s a relief to know I have been caught’.”

Judge Howard Crowson said there was no way of knowing how many people had seen the children’s photos

He said: “All of them are children whose images were potentially distributed worldwide and although one of the folders has been closed down that can not mean these images are not sent on further by people who share your views.

“These are very serious matters indeed.”

Judge Crowson also banned the dad of two from working with children for life, imposed an order restricting his computer use and banned him from owning cameras.

Family of the children identified in the pictures hit out at the sentence.

One relative said to the judge in court after he passed the sentence: “With respect sir, that’s not enough. He has ruined lives.”

She added outside the court: “All he is is a predator of children. He should be locked up and castrated.

“He will always like children and two years and eight months will not stop him from liking children.”

The child’s mum, who cannot be named, added: “It’s affected us a lot.”