A child sex offender has been sentenced to five months’ imprisonment following a joint investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
Timothy Bates, aged 40 of Belfast, had pleaded guilty to five counts of making indecent images of children, one count of possessing prohibited images of children and one count of possessing an extreme image.
One of the pleas related to material in the most serious category for images of child abuse.
Sentencing at Belfast Crown Court, Judge Smyth said that what had been found on Bates’s computers was “shocking and terrifying” and that the sentence reflected “the seriousness and public disgust at these offences”.
Bates was further placed on the sex offenders register for seven years, a sexual offences prevention order for seven years and will undertake a two-year sexual offenders programme.
Officers who examined his computers found 99 indecent images of children which he admitted downloading using file-sharing software.
Bates was the eleventh person sentenced under Operation Jarra, a joint NCA-PSNI investigation into people using the internet to access child abuse images in Northern Ireland.
NCA branch commander Rob Burgess said: “By downloading or streaming child abuse images, you encourage horrific crimes against children. Someone had to film the videos Bates watched.
“The NCA and PSNI are alert to the methods child sex offenders use to try to keep their activity secret. We work as partners to safeguard children from the threat of abuse and exploitation and are tireless in our efforts to identify and bring to justice those who would harm them.”
Detective Chief Superintendent George Clarke, Head of the PSNI’s Public Protection Unit, said: “Today’s sentencing is a further illustration of our determination to tackle the issue of child sexual abuse.
“The PSNI and our colleagues in NCA work hard together, using a range of investigative techniques to ensure all opportunities are maximised to protect children from harm online and offline and bring offenders to justice and we will continue to do so.
“Our message to those who continue to exploit children online is very clear. You leave a digital footprint when you are downloading or viewing indecent images of children and we have the capacity, capability and determination to catch you and bring you to justice.”