A “POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS” pervert who downloaded “repulsive” child rape material from the dark web and tried to share it with a like-minded individual has been spared jail.

Preston Crown Court heard how among the sordid items found on a Samsung mobile belonging to 20-year-old Jack Stephen Brunton was a video of a man filming himself raping a fiver-year-old girl.

Judge Philip Parry said the only reason he wasn’t sending Brunton, who admitted to having to having a sexual interest in children, to immediate custody was because there was a chance of rehabilitation.

Prosecuting, Paul Brookwell said that on February 3, last year, the defendant had attempted to upload an indecent image of a child via the social media platform Kik Messenger, which was ultimately blocked.

After tracing his IP address, police executed search warrant at his Ribble Valley home on July 17 and officers seized a number of electronic devices including the Samsung phone.

Mr Brookwell said: “The defendant was interviewed at an early stage and admitted being in possession of indecent images.

“He stated that he had been talking to someone on the Kik Messenger service who said they wanted to trade indecent images with him. He said he tried to upload one but that it had blocked this and then banned his account.

“He said he had acquired a number of images from a particular website and believed that particular website had been taken offline.

“He said he had used his Samsung mobile phone and provided the PIN number for the phone. He said after the incident with Kik he said he had problems with viruses on his phone so he had factory re-set it.

“He said he had more recently got images from a site called Alice in wonderland.”

Mr Brookwell continued: “He was asked if he was sexually attracted to children, to which he said ‘yes’. He explained this had started when he was very young. He went onto say he had never actually acted upon his attraction to children and he had no desire to have physical, sexual contact with them but just wanted to look at images and videos.”

Accepting that he got sexual gratification from viewing the indecent images, Brunton later said told police: “I want help for this.”

Mr Brookwell said when the Samsung was examined, police they found there was no search history for indecent material, which was consistent with the account Brunton had given to them.

Officers did fine 15 category A images – the most serious example of child sexual abuse – 46 category B images, 20 category C images, and 109 extreme pornographic images.

The indecent images featured both pre-pubescent boys and girls being sexually abused, with the youngest estimated at being five-year-olds. The extreme pornographic images features sexual activity with dogs.

Brunton, of Berry Lane, Longridge, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to three counts of making indecent images of children and one of possessing extreme pornographic images.

Michael Hegarty, defending, said although he accepted the offence had crossed the custody threshold, the court could still impose a community order as an alternative sentence.

Mr Hegarty said: “He has shown genuine remorse for his offending and he has genuinely asked for help.”

Sentencing Brunton to 12 months in a young offenders institution, but suspended it for two and a half years, Judge Parry said: “What worries me about you and about the contents of this pre-sentence report is how you came about your possession of this illicit and grossly offensive material.

“You searched what is commonly referred to as the dark web in order to find this type of imagery and it aroused you. You didn’t simply keep matters to yourself. What is worrying is that you sought to share one of those images with somebody who was like-minded to you.”

Imposing a 10-year sexual harm prevention order and ordering Brunton to sign the sex offender’s register for the same period, Judge Parry added: “You plainly, as the report points out, put your sexual preferences and your desires well ahead of any thoughts you might have had about how damaging this imagery is to the children who are involved in it. I hope by now you are well aware, having had your interview with the probation service, that whilst you yourself haven’t physically harmed any child, people like you searching for this sort of imagery significantly contribute to this wicked trade which is continuing year after year after year. Where people film this sort of appalling behaviour have a market to do so because of people like you who search it out.

“It is depraved and it is terribly, terribly worrying. You have the potential, in my judgement, to become a dangerous offender. You accept you have a sexual interest in young children and a general pre-occupation with sex. I hope that the police caught your offending sufficiently early to allow the professionals now to assist you in pointing out to just how wrong this behaviour is, how damaging it is to young children, how dangerous it is and how close you are to receiving lengthy periods of imprisonment. You are only 20-years-of age and that is one of the reasons why you will be spared an immediate term of young offenders detention today.”

Brunton must also complete 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days and attend a sex offender treatment programme.