A former supermarket worker found with a haul of indecent images of children told police he was a “pornography addict”, a court has heard.
Ryan Ashley Davies had actively searched for images of youngsters – some estimated to be as young as four – online, and had shared a number of them with fellow paedophiles.
Among the mobile phones and other devices seized by police was one that had been set-up to access to so-called “dark web”, the part of the web not accessible by usual search methods.
Swansea Crown Court heard that police executed a search warrant at Davies’ address in Trinity Road in Llanelli in August 2018, seizing a number of mobile phones, tablets, and computers from the house and garage.
Sophie Hill, prosecuting, said an examination of the devices found more than 1,710 indecent images and films including 594 of Category-A, the most serious kind, some of which showed children as young as four being raped by men.
Another 5,000 images found on the machines were not categorised by police.
Officers found evidence Davies had been actively searching for sexual material featuring under-age children, and had software on one of the devices for accessing the “dark web”.
The court heard police also found the defendant had an online DropBox file-storage account which others could link to, and had shared some 77 indecent images with other users on the Kik messenger service.
It wasn’t until December 2019 that Davies was arrested at an address in Ammanford, and during his interview told officers he was a “pornography addict” but had only looked at the images out of “curiosity”.
Miss Hill said the delay in the matter being charged and coming to court was down to a 12-month wait for the forensic examination of the defendant’s electronic devices due to the “significant backlog and lack of resources”, as well as subsequent difficulties in locating Davies.
Davies, aged 24, of Princess Court, Llanelli, had previously pleaded guilty to three counts of making incident images and to three counts of distributing indecent images when he appeared in the dock for sentencing.
The court heard he has no previous convictions.
Hywel Davies, for Davies, said the defendant was genuinely ashamed and remorseful over that he had done, and was determined not to let it “dictate the course of the rest of his life”.
He said given his conviction his client would be unlikely to be able to return to his former retail employment with Tesco, but that there was a chance he could find work in the construction sector with a friend of the family.
The advocate invited the court to follow the recommendations of a pre-sentence report, and to pass a community-based sentence which would allow probation to work with his client.
Judge Catherine Richards said the defendant had been “persistent and determined” in accessing indecent images, some of which he had also shared.
She said that though people referred to “images”, what people were actually talking about were real children being abused for the “perverted gratification” of adults – and by downloading and sharing the images Davies was encouraging such abuse.
Giving the defendant a one-third discount for his guilty pleas she sentenced him to a total of two years in prison – Davies will serve half that period in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.
The defendant was also made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order to control his access to the internet, and will be a registered sex offender for the same length of time