Judge's frustration at sentence of teen who conned boys into sending indecent photos
A Co Down teenager who continued to dupe school boys into sending him indecent pictures even after being caught with hundreds of child sex abuse images, was freed on a combination order of 100 hours community services and two years probation.
Belfast Crown Court Judge Geoffrey Miller QC told 18-year-old Owen Mounsey he would have preferred a more "carrot and stick approach", and suspended his sentence but he did not have the power to do so.
In all Mounsey admitted a total of 48 charges between 2014 and 2016 when he was arrested at his Station Road home in Holywood following a joint investigation by the National Crime Agency and PSNI.
In addition to downloading paedophile sex abuse manuals and images of children being abused, he also tricked three schoolboys into sending him pictures in various states of undress which he shared with a Dutchman who'd tutored him how to get others to pose for him.
Judge Miller told Mounsey, who will be 19 next month, that his was one of the most serious cases he has dealt with in the nine years of coming to the bench. His multiplicity of offences was all the more serious, involving as it did his possession of the paedophile manuals.
"Another specific and troubling aspect," said the judge, was Mounsey's breach of bail where he "deliberately sought out his child victims with further approaches".
However, said Judge Miller, given his admissions from the outset, and his guilty pleas, Mounsey, who was sexually abused himself, and was vilified when his offending became known, was entitled to the maximum credit of a third.
Judge Miller said while it had been stated time and again the "internet offers many opportunities ... sadly there is also a dark side involving corruption and exploitation where images such as those downloaded by the defendant are readily available.
"These include acts of violence and depravity many involving very young and vulnerable children, and some are to be found in the images found on the defendant's computers," he added.
Judge Miller repeated that while useful tools, computers were also a very dangerous device, allowing as it does access "to other more dangerous avenues which encourage young minds to click and click and click without perhaps appreciating that these sorts of pictures represent real victims in our society".
Prosecution lawyer Simon Jenkins revealed on Wednesday among the total of 954 images, including 54 videos, recovered from various devices, almost a third were in the most serious Category A, one of which showed a boy aged four or five being abused.
He also told the court that Mounsey had tricked the others, aged 11 to 12, to send him pictures of themselves, with promises of video game credits, and continued to do so even when on police bail.
And that the teenager also accepted he had read paedophile manuals he "inadvertently" downloaded, which detailed how to "ingratiate" yourself with youngsters and then sexually abuse them.
Defence counsel Barry Gibson said that while Mounsey fell to be dealt with as an adult, what occurred took place when he was still a youth, aged 14 to 17 and at a time he was confused about his gender.
Mr Gibson said the teenager made no threats to others, and immediately accepted his guilt, telling officers who came to his home, 'it's me you are looking for'.
He added that a number of reports, both psychiatric and probation, indicated that since then, "this has been a difficult journey for him, but he has come out a better person for it".