A pervert who was a father himself took sick snaps of children outside schools has been spared jail after a judge said his fetish for girls wearing tights was a “powerful factor in his life.”
Mark Stephenson, 52 and from Tamworth, Staffordshire, amassed more than 11,000 indecent images of children as young as five which he then shared with other online paedophiles.
When police raided his home, officers found 11,567 vile pictures including 113 of the most serious category A and B images stored on seven devices.
The dad-of-three admitted making indecent images of children, distributing them and outraging public decency.
Warwick Crown Court heard Stephenson, who worked as an insurance broker, had led a “double life” after becoming obsessed with girls in tights.
Stephenson was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years, ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work, and told to register as a sex offender for ten years.
Sentencing him on Monday (2/8) Recorder Balraj Bhatia QC said his tights fetish had been “a powerful factor in his life”.
He said: “You had been living a double life, because it is plain that on one hand you have been a successful, hard-working provider for your family.
“But there is a side to you which has caused considerable concern, and that has been reflected through your criminal conduct over a sustained period of time.
“It has been a sexual interest in young children, although in your own mind perhaps blurred through an obsessive fetish with tights and young girls wearing tights.
“You had in your occupation the opportunity to be away from home for a considerable period, and much of your offending took place in the privacy of hotel rooms.
“It would be easy to say ‘24 months, take him down,’ but you would be released after half and have limited supervision.”
The court heard that police arrested him after raiding his home in April 2018.
Grace Ong, prosecuting, said messages he had exchanged with other users on a social media site made it clear he had also been distributing category C images right up until the day before his arrest.
She said: “The main feature of the groups is that pictures of young girls in tights were actively sought.”
On a hard disk he had images of girls aged five to 14, showing their legs and clearly taken outside school gates, in trains and in shops.
Michael Duck QC, defending, said: “His family life was decimated, and in that period he has felt unable to work for a significant part of that period.
“He is a man who was, before the offences, a decent, hard-working family man who had worked in the insurance industry for the better part of three decades.
“He had married his childhood sweetheart, and they had three children, but there is no prospect of that marriage being resurrected.
This is a man who has a complex sexual background. These offences were committed while in his alter-ego.
“For a number of years he has kept that part of his life from everybody.
“He had long hours when he found himself in hotel rooms, which no doubt gave him the opportunity to carry out some of the activity found on his computers.”