‘Disgraced’ man found with over 45,000 child abuse images avoids jail sentence

A sex offender caught with more than 45,000 images of child abuse has been told he won’t go to prison.

Ethan Chapman, 20, had already learned a ‘harsh lesson’, a judge said, saying his ‘disgrace and humiliation’ would form part of his punishment.

He was found out after accessing the images on the dark web, using anonymisation techniques to hide his identity.

Police arrested him on August 28, 2018, and found he had 36,186 images at category A, the worst level.

Prosecutor Rachel Masters told Teeside Crown Court: ‘The fact that the images were found in an inaccessible area (shows) a clear attempt to conceal them.’

Chapman refused to be interviewed, but later admitted three offences of making indecent images of children – his first conviction – dated between 2015, when he was under 18, and 2018.

Aisha Wadoodi, defending, said Chapman had witnessed domestic violence
from a very young age in an ‘exceptionally difficult’ upbringing.

He had been bullied at school and, when he came out as gay at home,
was kicked out and sent to London.

Ms Wadoodi added: ‘He then went on apps such as Grindr, where he met much older men and found himself in the position he does.

‘He’s never had any type of proper boundaries, what’s right and what’s
wrong, from his home perspective.

‘It was very easy for him to be drawn into this world and be to some
extent exploited by people who were far more sophisticated then he
was.’

Ms Wadoodi said the café worker pleaded guilty despite the stigma of the offences, while older defendants in other cases put off owning up.

She argued: ‘A lengthy custodial sentence in this case wouldn’t assist either the
public or him, frankly.’

Judge Paul Watson QC said of the images: ‘They are deplorable.

‘Sometimes it’s thought by people who download and create images of this kind that this is somehow a victimless crime.

‘It of course isn’t. These are real children who have been subjected to real and the most vile abuse, so that images can be created and distributed to people who wish to download them.

‘The extent of the abuse and degradation of these children is almost unimaginable,’ the judge said.

‘And it’s people like you who download and create images like this, who perpetuate this disgusting industry.’

He described Chapman’s background as ‘hard to comprehend’ and said it ‘makes for horrific reading’.

But he decided to suspend the jail term, saying: ‘I’m quite satisfied that you’ve already learnt a very harsh lesson.

‘Simply from the fact of this prosecution and being brought before the court, subject to the disgrace and humiliation that no doubt this conviction will bring on you.

‘The disgrace it has brought on your family as well as yourself will form part of the punishment.”

Chapman was given an nine-month prison sentence suspended for 18
months with a sex offender treatment programme and up to 35 days’
rehabilitation activity.

He was given a sexual harm prevention order and will be on the sex
offenders register, both for five years.

NCA operations manager Graham Ellis said: ‘Every child in an abuse
image is re-victimised when the photograph is viewed or shared.

‘Chapman’s use of the dark web shows a degree of sophistication and a
determination to avoid law enforcement detection.

‘Dark web child sex offenders – some of whom are the very worst
offenders – cannot hide from law enforcement.’