Man caught with 11,000 indecent images spared jail

Paul Smith was jailed for attacking a grandfather in a pub PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Paul Smith was jailed for attacking a grandfather in a pub PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

A paedophile who 'doesn't feel safe' in Norwich prison has escaped jail for the second time after being caught with indecent images of children.

Thomas Dixon was before the courts in 2011 after being caught with indecent images, and eight years later police uncovered more than 11,000 new images on two laptops and hard drives.

Officers had been monitoring 30-year-old Dixon carefully until 2016 as part of a sexual harm prevention order,

But three years after monitoring expired, police raided Dixon's home in Thetford and found thousands more indecent images.

Despite a judge saying he "richly deserved" to go to prison, Dixon was spared jail in order to get help.

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Danielle O'Donovan, mitigating for him at Norwich Crown Court, said he "does not feel safe" in custody, as he has Aspergers and ADHD.

"They are so overcrowded now in Norwich prison they are putting regular prisoners in the vulnerable prisoner's wing," she told the court. "He is preyed upon by everyone else.

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"He is the most easy victim for bullying, and those in HMP Norwich find that is a useful thing to do with their time.

"He does not feel safe."

On Friday the court heard Dixon had been given a community order and placed on the sex offenders register for five years after he was caught in 2011.

Prosecutor Martin Ivory said: "Those requirements came to an end in 2016, and on March 11, 2019 there was an execution of a police warrant when police seized two laptop computers and two USB sticks from his address."

The court heard there were 9,547 category C images, 848 category B images and 793 category A images - the most serious.

There were also 155 category A movies, 88 category B movies and 286 category C movies.

"They involve children ranging from between four and 10 years of age, with a concerted effort to look for these kinds of images," said Mr Ivory.

"It is sadly a very familiar story with the court seeing cases of this nature time and time again."

Miss O'Donovan added there had been a "significant gap" in Dixon's offending, and he needed help in the community to avoid returning before the court.

"There has been a blip in this man's life," she said.

"He is struggling with depression and he needs to reestablish some of the very carefully planned behaviours he developed.

"He doesn't want to offend in this way, He is ashamed and deeply regrets it.

"It may well be a refresher of all he has previously done is a way this court can reimpose on this young man how it is he can deal with his issues in an entirely different way."

Judge David Goodin, sentencing Dixon, said: "Many would say you richly deserve to go to prison. It is also my duty to protect the public as far as possible, and in this case that means your innocent victims.

"Somewhere in the world a real child is abused in the most terrible way by someone. People who feed the continued demand for it feed the shocking abuse of youngsters in that way.

"Whatever may have been the success of your community order years ago, it has not lasted."

Dixon, of Chalk Close, Thetford, was given 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.

He must also complete the Horizon programme over 30 days and complete 20 rehabilitation days.

He will be on the sex offenders register for ten years and comply with a sexual harm prevention order for the same period.

Investigating officer detective constable Amy Nunn, from the Safeguarding Children Online Team, said: "Dixon is a repeat offender having been sentenced for similar offences in 2011. The internet is not an anonymous space for accessing indecent images; such activity leaves a digital footprint and we will find it.

"The prohibitions imposed through the Sexual Harm Prevention Order allow the police to monitor Dixon's online behaviour for the next 10 years, reducing the risk to the public."

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