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A sexual predator who shared thousands of indecent images of children with other paedophiles has been given an extended prison sentence of 14 years.
Christopher Spooner created a group on an online chat programme to share images and videos with other individuals from across the world.
Officers also found emails and online chat threads in which Spooner encouraged a man to sexually abuse a child and send him videos and images of the abuse.
The registered sex offender was arrested on January 11, 2020 after the Essex Police Online Investigation Team (POLIT) received information he was accessing indecent images of children, in breach of a sexual harm prevention order.
A search warrant was carried out at Spooner’s home in Pattiswick Square, Basildon, and officers seized mobile phones and memory cards.
More than 14,500 indecent images and videos of children were found on these devices.
He had also shared 411 images on two online chat groups in the 12 days up to and including the day of his arrest.
The 42-year-old admitted two counts of distributing indecent images of children, three counts of making indecent images of children, and one count of breaching a sexual harm prevention order.
He initially denied five counts of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence but changed his plea to guilty.
Spooner, who has been on remand in prison since his arrest, was jailed for the 11 offences at Basildon Crown Court on Wednesday February 24.
He was sentenced to 14 years, comprising of eight years imprisonment and six years on licence when he leaves jail.
He has been placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register indefinitely.
Police identified 180 emails and online conversations involving sexual offences that resulted in further separate investigations. As a result, officers have liaised with law enforcement agencies in 19 countries and identified six suspects elsewhere in the UK whom Spooner had been in contact with.
These individuals have been arrested and are currently going through the courts or investigations have been completed.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Nick Riley said: “The sexual abuse of children is among the most abhorrent crimes we investigate as police officers.
“Christopher Spooner is an extremely dangerous individual and he will be spending a considerable amount of time in prison, where he cannot cause any further harm to children.”
Parents and carers can find out more about how to help keep children safe online and talk to them about online safety at www.internetmatters.org and https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/
The Lucy Faithfull Foundation is the only UK-wide child protection charity focused solely on preventing child sexual abuse. The charity runs Stop it Now! – a child sexual abuse prevention campaign and helpline
For more information on how Stop it Now! helps people address their online behaviour, please visit the website www.stopitnow.org.uk or call the confidential Stop it Now! Helpline on 0808 1000 900.