Autistic Leeds man sent child-abuse images to undercover officers claiming he was investigating paedophiles

An autistic man who downloaded hundreds of child-abuse images then shared two with undercover officers then said he was investigating paedophiles.
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A psychiatric report into 44-year-old Robin Anson suggested that he would often become “fixated” on issues, and had wanted to reel in perverts online like a “paedophile hunter”, Leeds Crown Court was told.

As a result, and despite the Crown’s scepticism, it was not in a position to challenge the findings and his explanation was eventually accepted.

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Prosecutor Richard Holland said Anson communicated with two undercover officers online between March and May 2019 across various chat sites, including Kik, Chatiw and Wickr. He engaged in conversations about potentially meeting up in a hotel room, in which Anson said he was interested.

Anson got talking to undercover officers on several chat apps. (pic by National World)Anson got talking to undercover officers on several chat apps. (pic by National World)
Anson got talking to undercover officers on several chat apps. (pic by National World)

On May 31, 2019, he contacted the second officer and asked about how many children he had and if they “were active”. Unsolicited, he then sent two GIFs (moving images) of two children, aged around 10, being abused by adult males.

Anson, of Skinner lane, Sheepscar, attended Elland Road Police Station in the November of 2019, having been made aware the police were wanting to speak with him. He was arrested and his iPhone seized, along with a MacBook.

They found 386 indecent images on the two devices, and had been made between 2016 and 2019 – just days before he handed himself in. They included category A images – which contain the most serious forms of abuse.

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He gave no comments during a first interview, then in a second interview in December 2021 – two years after the first – he gave a prepared statement explaining his autism and its impact on him. However, he then refused to answer any further questions.

He admitted a charge of distributing indecent images, and three counts of making indecent images. A fourth charge of attempting to arrange a child sex offence was not pursued by the Crown following the outcome of his psychiatric report, and will lie on file.

Mitigating, Michael Collins said Anson had only been diagnosed with autism in 2012 after his family pushed for him to be assessed. Following the death of his grandmother, his “behaviour became more extreme”, added Mr Collins.

Mr Collins said: “It was not driven by sexual interest. He became obsessed with conspiracy theories he read about on the internet. He went down rabbit holes. He became consumed with an interest in those theories that touched upon paedophilia among politicians and celebrities. He intended to store the images and pass them on to the authorities.”

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Asked by Judge Mushtaq Khokhar what Anson “got out of it” – Mr Collins responded “nothing”.

Judge Khokhar said although the Crown may not have been able to challenge this, it did not necessarily mean his story was accepted.

He gave him a two-year community order, 40 rehabilitation days, put him on the sex offender register for five years and gave him a sexual harm prevention order to limit his internet use.

He told him: “You have been given a chance. Take it.”