'Pathetic' Jarrow pervert tried to hide phone with child abuse images on in loo during police search

A "pathetic" pervert had more than 2,000 child abuse images on a mobile phone he tried to hide in a toilet during a police raid.

Christopher Downs asked to use the bathroom while officers searched his home and took the chance to conceal his device in the cistern.

But Newcastle Crown Court heard an officer stationed outside the bathroom suspected the 36-year-old was up to something and the phone was found when the toilet was checked.

Go here for the latest crime news and breaking North East police updates

Prosecutor Peter Byrne told the court an illegal collection of 2,178 images, across all three categories of seriousness were stored on the handset.

A total of 991 pictures and videos were in Category A, which is the most serious, 608 were in Category B and 579 in Category C.

Downs, who has a previous conviction from 2006 for possessing indecent images of children, had also distributed some of his sickening collection, featuring abused children as young as five, to another person.

Mr Byrne told the court police raided Downs' home on October 9 2019 with a search warrant and added: "The defendant was present.

"At first he gave false details, those of his brother but it soon emerged he was Christopher Downs.

"While the warrant was being executed the defendant asked to use the toilet and this was allowed.

"A PC stationed outside could hear what the defendant was doing and heard the cistern of the toilet being moved. "It was discovered he had put his mobile phone in the cistern."

'Pathetic' Jarrow pervert tried to hide phone with child abuse images on in loo during police search

The court heard Downs refused to provide police with the pin number for the phone and it was sent away to an outside agency, at a cost of £2,160, to be unlocked.

Downs, of Regent Road, Jarrow, South Tyneside, eventually admitted the images on the phone were his and blamed a cocaine habit for him "becoming disinhibited".

He pleaded guilty to three charges of possessing indecent images of children and three of distributing a total of 53 indecent image of children.

Recorder Caroline Goodwin QC sentenced him to 18 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with rehabilitation requirements.

Downs must sign the sex offenders register and abide by a sexual harm prevention order for ten years.

The judge said Downs was a "pathetic individual" and the reason his jail sentence could be suspended was the "devastating" affect his absence would have on his family, particularly his father who has significant health problems and he provides care for.

The judge told him: "You are an utterly pathetic individual now seeking to rely, desperately, on your father, relying on his own desperate personal circumstances.

"You should be utterly and thoroughly ashamed.

"The single circumstance that is assisting you avoiding prison is the fact there would be a significant harmful impact on others, your father."

Downs was told he had brought "shame, shock and horror" to his parents' door by viewing and distributing the "appalling and disgusting" material.

Vic Laffey, defending, said Downs, who lost his job as a result of the offences, has since sought professional help.

Mr Laffey added: "He will work with the probation service, if given the opportunity to do so."

For daily news from the North East's courts direct to your inbox, go here to sign up to our free court newsletter