Paedophile had 90,000 child porn images

Ulster youth worker kept biggest hoard of sickening pictures and videos of children ever discovered in Ulster
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The Independent Online

This is the face of the youth worker from Dundonald who has been jailed after he admitted making almost 90,000 indecent images and videos of children — the biggest case of its kind in Northern Ireland legal history.

Paul Alexander Gardner, of Cherryhill Avenue, worked with children for 25 years in Ballybeen Activity Centre in Dundonald.



At Ards Crown Court he pleaded guilty to 30 counts of making indecent images and videos of children over a three-year period and was sentenced to four years in prison, concurrent, on the 30 charges. However, of the four years’ custody, just two years are to be served in prison with the remaining two years on probation and counselling courses.



The court heard that in September 2008 police arrested Gardner following a complaint from Ballybeen Activity Centre, which is run by Castlereagh Borough Council.



Gardner was arrested for downloading a movie entitled ‘14-year-old and her little sister’ onto a young youth worker’s computer.



Following his arrest and a search of his home police uncovered nearly 800,000 images on a portable hard drive, of which 200,000 were images of children.



Of the 200,000 images, 85,000 were indecent images of children and were categorised by the Copine Scale for severity. The categories are graded one to five, five being the most severe.



Gardner admitted to making, 77,979 category one images, 4,698 category two images, 1,402 category three images, 1,508 category four images and 145 category five images.



The court heard shocking details that Gardner fantasised that he was the adult in the videos whilst committing a sex act.



The court also heard that some of the most “disturbing” videos involved pre-pubescent girls and adult males, whilst the most sexually indecent image involved a child who was three years old.



In addition, Gardner was found to have made 4,100 indecent films of children, 72 of which were analysed by police and included 23 category one, 13 category two, three category three, 29 category four and four category five films.



The court was told that Gardner had only one sexual relationship in his early 20s which lasted some time, but that he never recovered



from the break-up. His defence said this caused the 45-year-old to spiral into “loneliness, despair and disfunction over the past 20 years”. The court was told how he turned to soft porn magazines and movies “because he couldn’t face engaging in real relationships”.



Gardner told a court appointed forensic psychiatrist that “he didn’t have the power to resist downloading the indecent images of children; that he hadn’t the willpower to stop and that it was like a drug addiction. He said he became more and more desensitised by the images and found himself needing more severe indecent images”.



The forensic scientist also reported that Gardner found “category five images extremely disturbing, where children were being coerced into performing, but because he didn’t know the children he was able to remain detached”. The court heard Gardner was a civil servant for 25 years and also worked as a youth worker. In making his summation, Judge Gibson said: “His curiosity led him to start viewing children from links on pornographic websites.



“He knew it was illegal and knew it was reckless, but was getting sexual gratification. The category five images and movies were extremely disturbing. The nature of the material in categories four and five was particularly repulsive and I have yet to encounter a case were so many images and videos were involved.”



Judge Gibson concluded: “He is not at risk of committing contact sexual intercourse with a child.”



* Source: The Belfast Telegraph