A former police officer who admitted downloading hundreds of indecent photographs of children over a four year period has escaped an immediate jail sentence at Lincoln Crown Court.
Roy Hobson, described as a “very well-respected member of the community” in his home town of Louth, was arrested after police raided his address in February this year.
Hobson, who was also involved with Louth Riverhead Theatre, was not at home when officers arrived but spoke to them by telephone and told them where they could find his stash of child pornography.
Andrew Vout, prosecuting, said: “Information was received by the police which connected indecent images and the IP address of Hobson’s home.
“Police officers went to his address. Hobson was not in but his wife was. She contacted him by mobile phone and one of the officers spoke with him on the phone.
“Hobson said ‘It’s on a memory stick that’s plugged into the hub under the computer’.”
Police seized a number of items of computer equipment and indecent images of children were found on both the memory stick and the computer.
Hobson, 66, of Wellington Street, Louth, admitted three charges of making a total of 605 indecent photographs of children between September 9, 2012 and February 22 this year.
Twelve of the images were in the most serious category with some featuring girls of just seven years old being sexually abused.
Hobson was given an eight month jail sentence suspended for two years and a two year community order with a rehabilitation activity requirement of up to 30 days.
He was placed on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years and given a 10 year sexual harm prevention order.
Hobson’s computer equipment was confiscated.
Judge Simon Hirst , passing sentence, told him: “This type of offending is not victimless. Every still photograph and every part of a film has the face of a child who has been sexually abused in the most cruel way imaginable.
“In behaving the way you did you encouraged the making of these images.”
The judge said that under sentencing guidelines Hobson would have faced a maximum penalty of a short prison sentence and the public would be better protected by him continuing to receive counselling and treatment.
“I have read a variety of references from family members and others all of which speak extremely highly of you.
“It is clear that before this matter came to light you were a very well respected member of the community and a member of the community who put a great deal into public life.
“You have lost your good character. You have lost your good name and lost your reputation. All of that can never come back.”
Neil Sands, in mitigation, said that Hobson had a number of difficulties in his life and was haunted by some of the scenes he had faced at road traffic accidents he attended while a police officer.
“His world was crumbling around him. He sought answers online. One thing led to another and before he knew he found himself where he is now.
“To say he is genuinely remorseful is an under-statement. This is a man who is appalled that he was looking at these images online.”
Mr Sands said that since his arrest Hobson has sought help and has been seeing a psychotherapist.
“From the moment of his arrest he has done everything within his powers to co-operate with the authorities.”