Lancaster sex offender caught with indecent images of children during police search
A convicted sex offender was caught with indecent images of children in his flat.
Philip Ward, 59, of Bulk Street, Lancaster, was convicted of indecent assault in 1986.
Preston Crown Court heard police carried out a warrant at his home and found images on two devices, and were also concerned about a picture of two young boys on a keyring, which he claimed here his 'godsons'.
He pleaded guilty to making three category B images of children and 539 at category C - considered the least serious in law - over a period between 2012 and 2018.
Prosecuting, Paul Brookwell said: "The browsing history refers to boys and there are various relevant pieces of evidence in terms of internet cookies and history.
"The defendant issued denials through the course of his police interview. Mr Ward does have two relevant previous convictions albeit of some age.
Judge Andrew Jefferies QC said he wanted to ensure Ward's offending "did not escalate" beyond what it is at the moment, and ordered him to sign the Sex Offender's register for five years.
Imposing a three year community order, with 50 day rehabilitation activity requirement, he said: "My hope and expectation is by engaging with those who are qualified, this does not continue.
"The indictment covers a period of six years and the conclusion I reach is that in weak moments you've been dipping into these images for obvious reasons when you look at your history and your previous convictions.
"Given you age and the age for those contact offences more than three decades ago and the relatively low level nature of these offences, what I'm looking at is a way to stop you accessing these images and if you can be engaged meaningfully with various agencies to ensure you don't go on to commit more serious crimes as you have in the past.
"I'm afraid I am one of those people who believes people who look at these images do directly cause harm and suffering to these children. If you don't look at them you'll be one less person to whom they can sell those images on to
"If noone looked at them common commercial sense tells you no one would make them."
Ward is already subject to a sexual harm prevention order sought by police in June 2019 as a result of this investigation.