'I couldn't stop myself': Leeds sex offender distributed vile child images to get access to paedophile chatroom

A sex offender shared indecent child images online to be allowed access to a paedophile chatroom.

Friday, 1st October 2021, 4:45 pm

Benjamin Petch told police officers that he 'simply could not help himself' when he was arrested for possessing illegal movies and photographs of children for a third time.

Petch was jailed for 26 months at Leeds Crown Court over his offending in 2017 and 2018.

Eddison Flint, prosecuting, said Petch was first convicted of possessing indecent child images in 2016 and was made the subject of a rehabilitation order and a five-year sexual harm prevention order (SHPO).

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Benjamin Petch was jailed for 26 months after pleading guilty to making and distributing indecent child images.

In December 2017 West Yorkshire Police officers were contacted by the National Crime Agency with information about an investigation into paedophiles streaming videos of children being sexually abused.

Petch's internet provider address was identified as being involved in the offending.

Police officers went to his then home in Gipton and seized memory sticks and other devices from the property.

They were found to contain over 200 illegal child images and prohibited images.

A total of 78 movies were at category A - the most serious level of offending.

Mr Flint said some of the movies showed babies being abused.

Petch was arrested and bailed while the investigation continued.

They returned to his home in July 2018 to make checks that he was complying with his SHPO.

The prosecutor said Petch appeared nervous and agitated when speaking to the officers.

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During the visit he said he needed to go to the toilet.

The officers became suspicious that he was trying to hide something and found a mobile phone in his bedroom.

The defendant claimed the device did not work but it then lit up.

An officer looked at the phone and found evidence that it had been used to search for illegal images of children.

Mr Flint said Petch became visibly upset and told the officers that he "simply could not help himself and did not know how to stop."

Three mobile phones and a Playstation were recovered from the house which contained more illegal images.

Evidence was then found that revealed he had been engaging in conversation with other paedophiles.

Petch had been told that he needed to provide images to share to be able to view images from others.

Mr Flint said Petch then distributed four category C images.

Petch, 32, now of Parkwood Rise, Keighley, pleaded guilty to six counts of making indecent images of a child, two of possession of prohibited images and one of distributing indecent images of a child.

Michael Walsh, mitigating, said Petch had completed a sex offender programme in the three years since his last offence.

Mr Walsh said: "This is an offender who has turned his situation around.

"He was clearly an almost unmanageable risk when he was sentenced on the last occasion.

"The course that he was given has worked and he has demonstrated in three years since then that he is not committing offences.

"His whole attitude to what he was doing has changed."

Jailing Petch, Judge Simon Batiste said: "All of the offences were committed while you were the subject of a community order and a SHPO, and the later offences while you were under investigation.

"Many of these children are extremely young, their age measured in months rather than years.

"It is argued that there is a case that I could suspend the inevitable prison sentence.

"I make it clear that in my view the only possible punishment is an immediate custodial sentence."

Judge Batiste said it was "pretty outrageous" that it had taken three years for the case to come before the court.

He ordered that the Crown Prosecution Service provide a written explanation for the delays in the case.

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