Man downloaded indecent images of children while on cocktail of legal highs

Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

An isolated man downloaded sadistic indecent images of children while on a cocktail of legal highs – but denied having a sexual interest in children.

Alex Stallard admitted making indecent images and extreme pornographic images when he appeared at Norwich Magistrates Court in August.

Police had executed a search warrant at his home in Hingham last October, when 36-year-old Stallard admitted downloading the images.

A total of 145 indecent images of children and 2,805 extreme pornographic images were found on nine devices searched by police.

They included children as young as three and "sadistic" acts, Norwich Crown Court heard on Thursday.

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While police searched his home last October, Stallard agreed to be contemporaneously interviewed with legal advice, the court heard.

"He admitted having exclusive use of the devices and admitted having 'dabbled in images of child abuse' using his phone, and when he did so he was probably drunk," said prosecutor Matthew Sorel-Cameron.

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"Formally interviewed in May he said he would search for such material when under the influence of legal highs to provide him with the Dutch courage to download and keep such illicit material.

"He claimed he did not have a sexual interest in children."

But Claire Williams, mitigating for Stallard, said: "No right-minded adult would accept someone who has a habit of looking at this material has no sexual interest in children.

"Though he is not ready to come out and say that, that is how it looks.

"The horror of what goes behind each image is something he has stopped thinking about. That is work he needs to do because he has become desensitised.

"This is an entrenched problem. He is completely isolated with exception of his mother and brother."

She added Stallard has never worked due to chronic osteoporosis, and bones in his legs and feet will break easily.

"He is using a cocktail of psychoactive substances - the sort of combination that could render him a vegetable," she said. "He says that would be no loss to anybody.

"He has zero self-esteem, is totally isolated and needs the skills of professionals to address this."

Judge Stephen Holt, sentencing Stallard, told him "huge damage" is done to children to feed his consumption.

"Normally at this stage I would turn to a statement by the victim," he said. "There is no statement but there were dozens of victims.

"Children as young as three were subjected to sadistic sexual acts. Who knows the damage to those children and if they will ever recover.

"There is huge damage done so people like you can view these disgusting images and videos."

But he added when there is "sufficient prospect of rehabilitation", treatment can be a "proper alternative" to a short prison sentence.

Stallard, of Lincoln Close, Hingham, was given eight months in prison, suspended for two years, and will have to carry out 45 rehabilitation days.

He was put on the sexual offenders register for 10 years and given a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years.

Judge Holt added the year delay in coming to court was occurring too often, despite Stallard admitting the offences last October.

"There is no reason at all he couldn't have been before the court in six weeks," he said. "Postal requisitions are clogging up the courts, and justice delayed is justice denied."

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