Boy of 13 put on sex offenders' register for child porn

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The Independent Online

A 13-year-old boy became one of the youngest people to be listed on the sex offenders' register yesterday after more than 300 images of child abuse were found on his computer.

A 13-year-old boy became one of the youngest people to be listed on the sex offenders' register yesterday after more than 300 images of child abuse were found on his computer.

A judge told the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, that he had become an "unwitting victim" in an internet child porn ring, but was placed on the register for two-and-a-half years.

He was also given an 18-month supervision order on condition he went on a rehabilitation course after a total of 326 images were found on the hard drive of his computer.

They showed young children involved in sexual acts as well as six images involving a baby. The boy admitted nine counts of possessing indecent images of children.

Teesside Youth Court was told that the boy, from Thornaby, Stockton-on-Tees, had logged on using an obscene pseudonym to a chatroom in search of teenage girls of a similar age.

Officers from Greater Manchester Police monitored the chatroom as part of a four-month surveillance operation, which has led to more than 30 arrests across Britain.

Cleveland police officers raided the boy's home expecting to find an adult paedophile, the court was told, and were surprised to find that the child was involved.

District Judge James Prowse accepted that the boy had not known the exact content of what was downloaded. He said: "You are in an unusual position and this is an unusual and disturbing case.

"It is an unusual case because of your age. The courts much more usually find they deal with adult individuals who have an unhealthy interest in these images.

"It is a disturbing case in that someone as young as you was so readily able to get access to this type of material, not just photos of girls of young age, but children engaging in thoroughly indecent acts.

"You yourself became an unwitting victim of the pornography that is available on the internet to be peddled."

He added: "All the indications are you are being well brought up in a secure family environment."

The judge ordered the hard drive on the boy's computer be destroyed, but allowed the rest of the equipment to be returned to his family.

Although the boy was the youngest person in Cleveland to go on the register, the Home Office said it believed there were younger offenders elsewhere in the country.

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