Man jailed for child abuse images - Berkhamsted

20/05/2016

A man has today, Friday, 20 May 2016, been jailed for five-and-a-half years after a court heard how police found thousands of depraved images of child sex abuse victims on his computer.

Jailing Stephen Byfield, aged 63, at St Albans Crown Court, Judge Jonathan Carroll told him: "Let's make it absolutely clear, these offences are not victimless. These are real children who are being sexually abused."

The court was told some of the images were of the very worst kind. In the main, the material featured children as young as six or seven being abused.

After his arrest, it was found that Byfield didn't just possess the images, a search of his computer revealed he had been distributing the material by email to others.

The court was told Byfield, of Haynes Mead, Berkhamsted, had three previous convictions stemming from his interest in downloading child sex abuse images. As a result, he was subject to home visits by the police to check on his computer use. It was as a result of visits to his home by officers monitoring his computer activity, that it was discovered that he had not only been viewing more of the depraved images he'd found on the Internet, but that he had also taken steps to hide from the officers his computer's search history.

Judge Carroll was told that Byfield had deliberately not opened his door to the police when they called, switching his computer off in a hurry in an attempt to hide what he'd been up to. Police discovered he had amassed a staggering collection of depraved images running into tens of thousands. He had also attempted to cover his tracks by installing special software.

Judge Carroll, hearing the case as it was outlined by the prosecution, commented that Byfield had created a "virtual computer" within a computer to hide his activities and had taken steps to hide the history of his Internet search activities with sophisticated software. "You had taken positive steps to minimise the chances of you being caught," he told Byfield.

Byfield appeared in court to be sentenced for three offences of possessing indecent photographs of children, a charge of possessing a prohibited image, distributing images and two breaches of the terms of a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO). He was jailed for a total of five and a half years and was told all the computer equipment seized by police would be forfeited and destroyed. He was also made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO).

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