Man posed as a girl to get depraved pictures

York Crown Court
York Crown Court

A 59-year-old man posed as a teenage girl on internet chat rooms to hunt for depraved pictures of youngsters.

Christopher Houseman, from Bridlington, was sent hundreds of lurid images of young girls by other internet users after masquerading as a 15-year-old on a Hotmail account.

He was nailed when police raided his former home in Boroughbridge, near Harrogate, and took away his laptop and a memory stick for analysis.

Houseman, of Headlands Close, appeared for sentence at York Crown Court on Friday after pleading guilty to 11 counts of making indecent images of children.

Prosecuting barrister Paul Abrahams it was not clear whether the other internet users were children or adults posing as youngsters.

Of the 360 images found on Houseman’s laptop and memory stick following the police raid on December 1, 2012, some were in the most serious category.

Defence barrister Jon Gregg said that Houseman had started browsing the internet for indecent images after his marriage fell apart and he found himself in financial turmoil.

A few years ago police turned up at his home to seize firearms after he threatened to turn a gun on himself.

Judge Robert Bartfield told Houseman: “The satisfaction you obtained from using your computer for sexual gratification, and the reason why you did so, cannot just be described as perverted, but bizarre.”

However, he decided not to pass an immediate jail sentence because at the time of the offences Houseman was “depressed, isolated and suicidal”.

Mr Bartfield imposed a six-month prison term, but suspended this for a year. He also made a sexual-harm prevention order which will last for seven years and prohibits Houseman from using the internet on any devices other than those which are equipped with special detection software which can track his search history.

In addition, Mr Bartfield imposed a seven-year notification order.