Southwick man avoids jail after conviction over child abuse images

A Southwick man caught in possession of almost 100 child abuse images on a cloud storage account has avoided jail.

Police raided Paul Bestford’s home in August 2021 and downloaded material from his Mega facility onto a portable device to be examined.

97 child abuse images were found.

Prosecutor Michael Bunch told the court one of the images was category A, which is the most serious, two were category B and 94 were category C.

Mr Bunch told the court: “They were stored in different folders.

“He was in the habit of downloading images and thereafter allocating them to various different folders for access.”

Bestford, 43, of Oaklands Crescent, Sunderland, who the court heard has never been in trouble before, admitted three charges of making indecent images of children.

Vic Laffey, defending, said Bestford has sought professional help and added: “He is working hard to solve the problems which led to him committing this offence.”

Mr Recorder Tom Little KC sentenced Bestford to five months, suspended for two years with rehabilitation requirements and 100 hours unpaid work.

Bestford must sign the sex offenders register and abide by a sexual harm prevention order for seven years.

Recorder Little said steps can be taken to address Bestford’s offending and he has a prospect of rehabilitation.

The recorder told him: “You have been given a chance.”