A paedophile tried to blame his wife after a stash of vile images of child abuse were found on his computer.
Network Rail worker Gareth Michael Hodgkinson, 37, cast suspicion on his spouse, Preston’s Sessions House Court was told, after police visited his home in Normoss and seized his computer equipment.
Prosecuting, Frances McEntee said: “Police attended the defendant’s address at Ledbury Road, Blackpool, on August 30, 2016. They seized a number of items of computer equipment and the defendant agreed to attend the police station voluntarily.
“The defendant simply denied any knowledge of indecent images on his computer and accordingly it was sent for analysis.”
The court heard the analysis revealed 1,441 still images, mainly of children aged around eight to 10.
253 of them were deemed category A, the most serious in law, with 249 at category B and 939 at category C.
There were also two video clips of category A but those images are described as inaccessible, indicating they had been previously viewed and deleted.
Hodgkinson, now of Raikes Parade, Blackpool, was formally interviewed in December 2017 as the backlog for examining such material is “considerable”. He denied the offences.
Mr McEntee added: “One unfortunate aspect of the case is the defendant indicated the images might possibly have been downloaded while the computer he had was in his place of work at that time, a hotel.
“He indicated a guest may have had access. More significantly he indicated the only other person to have access was his wife.
Police contacted her employers for her working pattern.”
The investigation found on at least four occasions she could not have been the person downloading the images as she was at work.
Hodgkinson has since admitted three counts of making and one of possessing indecent images of children over a six year period.
Defending, Jane Dagnall said he would now be tarred with the label of being a ‘paedophile’ and was ashamed.
She revealed his wife was supporting him, despite the suggestions he had made.
She added: “The offecnes, while aggravated by the period they were committed over, are balanced by the fact he had worked very hard indeed and has a very strong work ethic.
“The offences now are two-years-ago and he hasn’t offended since.
“His explanation, not an excuse, is that he was going through a difficult period.
“He has had to face the wrath of his wife, who has been put to some shame and embarrassment by the investigation into her dates of work and times.”
The judge, Mr Justice Dove, said: “They are images of the most disgusting kind, that’s why they’re unlawful. They are unlawful because they are the evidence of child abuse, which you were profiting from for your own gratification.
“The truth is you have no reasonable explanation or excuse for what happened and indeed when confronted you tried to implicate others, your loved ones, in your offending.
However he agreed to suspend his 12 month jail term for two years.
He imposed 100 hours unpaid work, with a rehabilitation activity requirement.
Hodgkinson was made the subject of a 10 year Sexual Harm Prevention Order and must sign the Sex Offender’s Register for 10 years.