An Armagh who was caught with almost 2,500 child sex images was “devoted” to this type of activity, a court has heard.
Steven Cummings, of Gaol Square, was handed an enhanced combination order of 60 hours community service and two years on probation at Newry Crown Court on Friday.
The 40-year-old had pleaded guilty to eight counts ranging from possessing indecent, prohibited and extreme pornographic images between 2011 and July 2015.
Cummings was charged and pleaded guilty to all counts at arraignment on April 5, of this year – more than five years after initially arrested.
In February 2016, acting on intelligence, police conducted a search at of the defendant’s home.
Among the items seized were two computer towers, one of which contained a total of 1,226 images, the other, 1,232 images.
Outlining the background to the case, His Honour, Judge Gordon Kerr QC, said: “This man, for a number of years, has accepted that he engaged in seeing child images and downloading them on his computer.
“The level of his involvement in this is such that, on one occasion, it appears that he put an image of himself masturbating, in relation to child pornography, onto the screen.
“There is no doubt that for a period of time he appeared to be devoted to this type of activity.”
Cummings was interviewed in May 2016 where he answered questions and confirmed he used Dropbox to access porn and shared video content.
In respect of all questions pertaining to indecent images of children he replied that he “would rather not say”.
He was interviewed again, much later in November 2021, where he answered no comment to all questions put to him.
Judge Kerr, in his sentencing remarks, said: “I note that there are a number of references in relation to his standing in the community and it’s perfectly clear that he is otherwise a good character, and those who knew him were both disappointed but also surprised by the level of activity involved.
“During the course of the pre-sentence report, it became apparent this man appeared to have some difficulty in recognising the fact, which is now well understood and accepted by most people in the community, that viewing the image of child abuse is watching criminal offences taking place….and that people who watch such porn are encouraging that and allow that to continue, and indeed encourage it by their downloading.”
Judge Kerr added: “The report from the probation board shows that when dealing with the offending initially, it appears that this man had some difficulty in understanding that fact…However, the position is that he now appears to be remorseful in relation to his offending, and has taken concrete steps to reduce the hold that such addiction, has had upon him.”
Judge Kerr opted to impose an enhanced combination order of 60 hours community service and two years of probation, in place of a 12-month custodial sentence, which Cummings accepted from the dock.