David Walton had his home raided by police armed with a search warrant during the coronavirus pandemic and there was enough evidence to arrest him, a court heard
A stroke survivor who developed an interest in child abuse images during the Covid pandemic has been spared jail.
David Walton became isolated during the pandemic, a situation which became a “catalyst” for his twisted intrigue, a court heard. The 69-year-old man was arrested after police armed with a search warrant raided his home.
Officers found three images in the most serious category, including two videos, on Walton’s mobile phone, a further three images in the next category and one on the lowest category. However, the pensioner, of Warrington, Cheshire, told police he had memory loss after being caught and he denied the offences.
Walton was de-arrested after officers learned of his ill health but as he was later re-interviewed, he admitted his guilt. Walton pleaded guilty to three offences of making indecent images and one of possessing them.
Liverpool Crown Court heard the images involved children as young as six. The images appeared to have been received from a WhatsApp chat with someone else, which had automatically saved to the phone, Manchester Evening News says.
But Walton was spared jail today as Recorder Eric Lamb told the court he believed the defendant is unlikely to reoffend. Recorder Lamb imposed a 12 month community order and ordered him to carry out 20 rehabilitation activity days and to pay a £260 fine. He also has to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years, while a Sexual Harm Prevention Order was imposed for the same length of time.
Iain Criddle, prosecuting, said the police raid followed offences, which took place between November 13 and 15, 2020, eight months after the first lockdown was imposed.
The lawyer said: “He was arrested but when officers became aware of his ill health they de-arrested him and he was warned to attend a police station for interview.”
Walton’s loss of his good character is now causing him anxiety, his lawyer said. Fiona McNeill added the defendant had no previous convictions. She said: “He suffered a stroke in March 2020 which coincided with the beginning of the Covid pandemic and his feelings of isolation were exacerbated by the pandemic.
“It appears to have been the catalyst for his offending. Thankfully it was short lived and when it dawned on him the gravity of what he had embarked on he stopped. He is thoroughly ashamed of his behaviour.”