Leeds man's reasons for viewing indecent images 'highly unusual' says judge

An autistic Leeds man downloaded thousands of indecent images of children for the thrill that came with doing something wrong, a court heard.
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Describing the case as "highly unusual", Judge Neil Clark said Alistair Armitage's offending seemed to be linked to his desire to take a risk and the thrill he got from this rather than any enjoyment of viewing the images themselves.

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He added: "The problem, of course, is that might be the motivation - but it doesn't make it any easier for the victims of those images."

Alistair Armitage appeared at Leeds Crown Court after admitting downloading indecent images of children.Alistair Armitage appeared at Leeds Crown Court after admitting downloading indecent images of children.
Alistair Armitage appeared at Leeds Crown Court after admitting downloading indecent images of children.
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During an earlier hearing, the 38-year-old had admitted three counts of possessing indecent images of children relating to more than 6,000 pictures and videos.

They included 106 images at Category A - the most serious level - as well as 118 at Category B and 5,888 at Category C.

Some of the children pictured were as young as two or three years old.

Leeds Crown Court heard police were tipped off by Armitage's internet service provider and secured a search warrant for his home in the city in November 2018.

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When they arrived at the address in York Road and arrested Armitage on November 19, he immediately pointed them towards an Xbox in the kitchen and said he had used it to view images.

During a police interview, he told officers he could not remember what websites he had visited or what search terms he had used.

He said the images showed girls not fully clothed but he could not remember anything else about them.

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Prosecutor Joanne Shepherd said Armitage had a conviction for a similar offence dating back to 2014 and was the subject of an indefinite Sexual Offences Prevention Order, now known as a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

The court heard a pre-sentence report had been carried out by the Probation Service, examining the reasons for Armitage's offending and any risk that he would offend again.

It detailed his lack of access to family, struggles to cope in the property he had been left in and a history of depression.

Katherine Robinson, mitigating, said Armitage had really benefited from engagement with the service when he was made subject to a community order following the 2014 offence.

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She said that the more recent offences were an attempt to access similar levels of support at a time when his relationship was breaking down.

"He accepts he needs to find a way to get help without committing offences of any kind," she said, adding that he had since approached his GP and social services for support.

Judge Clark said the most unusual aspect of the case was the reason for Armitage's offending and it was clear his autism had played a "significant" part.

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He also noted the early guilty plea and the fact there had been no reoffending since his arrest 15 months ago.

Armitage was sentenced to 10 months in prison, suspended for two years, with 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

He must sign the sex offenders' register for 10 years and will be subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years.