Twice, Edward Thornton, 33, has been caught by police with a sickening collection of indecent images involving children.
In 2021, he was found with a stockpile of more than 14,000 “revolting files”, some involving the rape of babies and “sadistic” torture of toddlers.
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The Echo reports that the Wirral peado said while he knew the children involved had suffered harm, he was “addicted” and wouldn’t stop downloading child sex abuse photos and videos – unless it was impossible for him to do so.
Thornton, of Meadowfield Close, Rock Ferry, was first sentenced over indecent photos of children in December 2008, when he was handed 11 months in prison, suspended for two years.
He was then jailed for three years in July 2014, for possessing and sharing child sex abuse images and 11 breaches of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.
He was given an updated Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO), but within months of being released from jail in 2016, started hoarding sick files again.
Liverpool Crown Court heard police went to Thornton’s home on May 11, 2020, and asked him to present any phones or computers for inspection.
Christopher Taylor, prosecuting, said Thornton handed over a Nokia without internet access and said it was all he had.
But a detective told him information suggested he’d posted an indecent photo on the app Kik Messenger.
The “tearful” pervert confessed and went to a cupboard and produced two mobile phones, a computer tower and a wireless router.
Mr Taylor said on a Huawei phone and the computer there were “at least 14,266 illegal files”, downloaded between October 15, 2016 and May 4, 2020.
In total there were 3,766 Category A – the most serious category showing child rape – 2,770 Category B and 7,605 Category C images.
This included 1,100 child rape videos, featuring children as young as babies.
Thornton had a further 90 prohibited (cartoon) images of children and 35 extreme porn files, showing animal abuse.
Mr Taylor gave a description of a selection of the images, some of which had been sourced from Russia.
Mr Taylor said in total there were actually 38,000 images, but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had not asked for the remaining files to be examined or categorised because it was agreed it was “unnecessary to expose the examiners” to further analysis.
The judge, Recorder Eric Lamb, said: “Anybody being exposed to these images could not fail to be affected by them.”
On his Huawei phone, Thornton had the Wickr Me encrypted chat service and had used it to share a child rape video.
Thornton made full admissions when interviewed and was released under investigation while his phone was analysed.
SnapChat contacted police this year to tell them an account linked to Thornton had uploaded a Category B file in March 2021.
Police raided his home on August 11 and seized a mobile phone hidden under a sofa, a laptop and three USB devices.
He had kept these from his sex offender manager and again made full admissions when interviewed, before six Category A, B and C files were found.
He again made full admissions when interviewed.
Thornton admitted six counts of downloading, two counts of distributing and one count of possessing indecent images of children.
He also pleaded guilty to four counts of breaching his SHPO and possessing prohibited images of children and extreme porn.
Bernice Campbell, defending, said Thornton’s “best and maybe only point” was his early guilty pleas, which entitled him to one third credit off his sentence.
She said he made admissions to police and had also been “extremely candid” with a psychiatrist and probation officer about his “issues”.
Ms Campbell said: “Your honour has many people in front of him who have addictions – the majority of them are drugs.
“But in some ways this is an addiction for Mr Thornton. When asked how he would stop he said very candidly ‘in a cave with no electricity’.
“He needs help. There are members of the public who would probably say ‘lock him up and throw away the key’, or maybe worse.
“But we’re in a court of law and there are prescribed sentencing guidelines as you’re aware of.”
She added that Thornton, who has Asperger’s syndrome, “doesn’t know why he acts like he does, but he’s willing to engage”.
Recorder Lamb said Thornton was “an intelligent man” who had “deliberately and cunningly” breached his SHPO by downloading images of children being abused around the world, to which he said he was “addicted”.
He told him that no one hearing “even the sanitised” description provided in court “could fail to be revolted by the sort of images that you have been seeking out”.
The judge jailed Thornton for five years and said he would have to sign on the Sex Offenders Register and comply with his SHPO indefinitely.
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