Christopher Hicks – Gloucester
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Pervert caught with 1,000 child sex images freed by judge after ‘changing attitude’ to care for poorly wife
A Gloucester man jailed for collecting more than 1,000 child porn images was freed by an appeal judge on Friday, June 14 so he can look after his wife who has recently suffered a heart attack.
Last month, Christopher Hicks, 55, of Henry Street, had been sentenced last month to four months imprisonment by Cheltenham magistrates for three offences of possessing indecent images of under-age girls. He had admitted the offences.
Today he won an appeal against the sentence at Gloucester Crown Court where Recorder Andrew Langdon QC, sitting with two JPs, decided to suspend the four months sentence and free Hicks immediately.
Hicks was also placed on a three year community order with conditions to do up to 40 rehabilitation activity sessions and 50 hours of unpaid work.
Recorder Langdon told him that one of the reasons the magistrates had decided to send him straight to prison had been his attitude to his offending – trying to minimise and justify it, and suggesting that he downloaded the images for artistic purposes.
But the Recorder said a probation service report on Hicks suggested he was now changing his attitudes towards such offending.
Prosecutor Alistair Heggarty said police raided Hicks’ home on September 25 last year with a search warrant. He denied having downloaded any indecent images but six computers and other devices were seized and in due course 1,079 illegal images were found.
Two were Category A videos – the most serious type of images – of young girls performing indecent acts. There were seven Category B images and the rest were all the least serious Category C.
The images had all been stored on a USB stick titled ‘Girls to Keep.’
The police discovered that Hicks had been amassing the images over a four and a half year period from March 2014 to September last year.
When interviewed Hicks claimed he was a keen photographer and that he and his wife wrote erotic fiction.
“He said he downloaded the images but they were not sexual. He denied any interest in sexual activity with children.”
Matthew Harbinson, defending, said Hicks’ wife has recently suffered a heart attack and is in the early stages of recuperation after surgery. He has been in jail for the last five weeks and unable to help her.
Hicks had no previous convictions for any kind of offence and the passing of an immediate jail term for possession of just two Class A indedent images was excessive and went beyond Sentencing Guidelines, the solicitor argued.
The Recorder said he had read Hicks’ comments to police and probation about his attitude towards his offending and they were ‘disspiriting’ and ‘troubling.’
But Mr Harbinson said he was sure the stiff sentence Hicks had received and his five weeks in custody had changed his attitude.
“He knows no-one is going to be fooled about his attitudes of ‘artistic interest.'”
After the Recorder allowed the appeal Hicks told him: “I shall now be concentrating on caring for my wife.”