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Friday, March 31, 2017

Darknet Child Pornography Buyer Convicted, Avoids Prison

On March 12, Leigh Williams of Newport, South Wales, was convicted for the possession of child pornography. In consideration of Leigh Williams’ plea and his genuine remorse toward his action, judge Peter Griffiths sentenced Williams to six months in prison, to be effective after two years.

In most child pornography cases, regardless of the intensity of the crime or the category of child pornography files, criminals are immediately sentenced to prison for their unethical behaviour and actions. In the case of Williams, police found 24 images of child pornography on his computer during a raid of his property. Five of the 24 images belonged to category A, and the rest belonged to Category B and C.

When child pornography is seized from buyers and distributors, investigators and local law enforcement agencies categorize different forms of child pornography depending on their intensity or severity. Within this system, category A refers to the most inappropriate type of child pornography and almost at all times, the possession of category A child pornography alone lead to a sentence of multiple years in prison.

During his trial, Williams pleaded guilty to all of the three charges and told the court that he was remorseful for his actions. Williams admitted to his possession of child pornography and revealed that he acquired them on a darknet marketplace, wherein child pornography was being traded regularly.

For his plea and admittance to guilt, judge Griffiths ultimately decided to sentence Williams to six months in prison, to be served after two years of suspension. In addition, Williams was added by the court to the sex offenders’ register in South Wales for five years, required to complete a sexual offender rehabilitation program, pay a victim surcharge of $140 and received a sexual harm prevention order structured for five years.

Stephen Thomas, the defendant and the attorney of Williams told the court:

“He expressed remorse and continues to be sorry. This is a hard-working single man who is considered to be at low risk of offending. Immediate custody in this case is not inevitable.”

Thomas further emphasized that the court should permit Williams to work and achieve a certain level of financial stability before being sentenced to prison, as he has no family members to rely on after being released from prison.

Judge Griffiths complied with the request of Thomas and Williams, granting two years of suspension for Williams. Griffiths added that the court decided to provide Williams a two-year period due to his lack of offense in the past.

“The other feature that plays an important part in my decision is that you have already been in custody (for this case) and your lack of offending in the past,” said Griffiths.

In January, DeepDotWeb reported that two Englishmen including 40-year-old Gabor Papai and a 45-year-old hospital IT employee Martin Richard Shepherd from the UK were sentenced for downloading child pornography from the darknet. The two cases of Papai and Shepherd were almost identical to the case of Williams, in that they both obtained child pornography from the darknet without the intent to distribute.

While Williams received a six-month sentence with a two-year suspension, Papai received a shorter sentence of 60 days of sexual rehabilitation and one year on probation. However, Shepherd, who were found guilty of collecting child pornography over the period of 14 years, was sentenced to 5 years in prison.

Even within the UK, sentencing for child pornography criminals can vary greatly. If charges include the collection of child pornography over a longer period of time, criminals will be asked to serve multi-year prison sentences.
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