Man caught with hundreds of child abuse images spared prison

North Somerset Courthouse.

North Somerset Courthouse. - Credit: Archant

An autistic man whose ‘mental abilities are well below his stated age’ was spared prison after he pleaded guilty to possessing hundreds of child abuse images.

Thomas Bowyer was handed a three-year community order after he was found to have hundreds indecent images of children, as well as numerous 'borderline nudist' pictures featuring both boys and girls as young as seven, across numerous devices.

The 25-year-old from Pill admitted being in possession of 250 indecent images, and three videos of child sexual abuse, across numerous devices, at his first hearing held at North Somerset Courthouse on July 24.

On September 1, 2017 while investigating another matter police discovered numerous child abuse images while searching Bowyer's mobile phone.

Several other devices including a laptop, and sim card were seized from his home.

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Two months later, a bouncer at Ella's Disco Bar in Weston, found an LTE mobile phone, containing dozens of indecent images which he assumed had been dropped by a customer.

While inspecting the device the doorman found several pictures of Bowyer, who he recognised as a former staff member.

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James Munford, defending, said Bowyer was autistic and suffered from Asperger's.

Mr Munford added: "Since birth his mental abilities have been well below his stated age.

"He does not realise the seriousness of his offences."

A pre-sentence report also stated Bowyer would be excluded from useful rehabilitation programmes should he go to prison.

Sentencing, chair of the bench, Dr Peter Reed said: "Possessing images of child abuse is a very serious offence.

"This offence included category A and B images, which our guidelines say require a prison sentence.

"However the reason we are not sending you to prison is because you pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

"There are also clear issues about your maturity, autism and Asperger's syndrome, so instead we are going to give you a three-year community order."

Bowyer, of Underbanks, was ordered to attend a sexual offending programme, a 35-hour rehabilitation programme and perform 80 hours' unpaid work, pay £85 costs, and an £85 victim surcharge.

The magistrates at North Somerset Courthouse also ordered for all the offending images to be destroyed on Tuesday afternoon.

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