Man given probation over child images

Published Friday, 09 November 2012
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An east Belfast man who downloaded over 1,000 images of children being abused and swapped many of them with others has been given a three-year probation term.

Man given probation over child images
Strain was given a three year probation order. (© UTV)

James Strain, 61, was ordered to complete a new internet sex offender's treatment programme at Belfast Crown Court on Friday.

Judge Corinne Philpott QC told Strain his "entrenched and distorted attitudes" would be addressed.

"The natural concern the court has in this type of offending is that the child victims are not seen as victims, that just because they have not been touched or interfered with by this defendant doesn't mean that they have not suffered," said the judge.

She told Strain, whom she ordered to sign the police sex offenders register for the next five years, that at his age he "should have known better" and warned him that any breach of the probation order would result in him going to jail for 18 months.

Earlier she heard that when officers seized a computer and external hard drive from Strain's home at Parklands in east Belfast, they uncovered 1,156 indecent images of children being abused and of bestiality.

Prosecuting lawyer Philip Henry told the court that although most were in the least offensive categories of one to three, there were "a number" of images in categories four and five.

The police investigation also revealed however that Strain had set up eight online identities which he used in various chatrooms on the internet, using all but one to pose as a teenage girl.

It was through these identities and online chats that Strain admitted to swapping some images and obtaining others.

In total Strain pleaded guilty to 15 charges relating to indecent images of children, three counts of distributing images of children and a further three of possessing extreme pornography on various dates between 31 January 2009 and June 14 last year.

Defence QC John McCrudden said that Strain, who uses a wheeled zimmer frame to get around due to arthritis, began looking at adult pornography online but "like soft drugs it was the gateway to this sort of filth".

In handing down the probation order, Judge Philpott said it was difficult for members of the public "to get over the repulsion that these types of offences causes" but that in Strain's case, he had pleaded guilty, had shown remorse and was not assessed as posing a risk to the public.

© UTV News
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3 Comments
petand in londonderry wrote (527 days ago):
3 years probation is just not good enough. He should be locked up for 3 yers nd then probation. Sometimes the courts worry me, whose side are they on anyway?
G in here wrote (527 days ago):
So i read about a story about a sex offender and still manage to read yet more anti-cannabis propaganda.The gateway drug theory is NOT fact ,anyone who has the ability to think for themselves can see this.It's very simple to explain,people who have any sence don't try hard drugs just like people with any morals or decency don't look at videos of child abuse.No gateways involved at all i'm afraid.
Kim in Belfast wrote (527 days ago):
PROBATION???? Ah bless he showed remorse, What sort of system is in place in Northern Ireland, I would ask legal system, but to use the word legal qould be foolish. Maybe if there was a deterrant to stop people breaking the law, like actually going to jail, regardless of their situation. There would be less laws broken. Although I suppose a nice warm bedsit, with your meals and entertainment and all your rights, i guess breaking the law is maybe the way to go. NOT THAT THIS WILL BE POSTED, THE TRUTH DOENT TEND TO BE
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