Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Father-of-three, 39, caught with child rape images on his phone is spared jail

A father-of-three 39, who was caught with child rape images on his phone has been spared jail after his life 'descended' into paedophilia following the death of his wife to cancer.



Gareth Sumner, 39, was caught downloading child abuse images including rape on two devices.



He was spared jail yesterday after a defence lawyer explained how the widower had 'descended into this world' following the death of his wife.

Gareth Sumner, 39, said he 'descended' into paedophilia after his wife died of cancer in 2010.



Laura Pemberton, 29, from Huyton, Merseyside died just 24 hours after walking down the aisle in June 2010.

She had been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer just six weeks earlier.

Bereaved Mr Sumner had been engaged to Ms Permberton for four years before they got married.


Laura Pemberton, 29, died after their wedding day in June 2010,

Doctors had urged the couple to fast-forward their plans because of her rapidly deteriorating health. 



Two years later two burglars broke into Mr Sumner’s home in Fazakerley and stole computers containing pictures of the June 2010 nuptial, and a recording of Ms Pemberton singing to their three-year-old son.

Sumner appeared at Liverpool Crown Court yesterday and admitted downloading indecent images of children when high on drink and drugs.

The 39-year-old was spared jail after a defence lawyer said the grieving widower 'descended into this world'.


Gareth Sumner outside Liverpool Crown Court where he was handed a 14-month suspended sentence

The 39-year-old appeared at Liverpool Crown Court today and admitted downloading indecent images of children when high on drink and drugs.



Charles Lander, prosecuting, said police raided the family's home on December 13, 2017 and arrested Sumner.

The court heard it was 'immediately apparent' that the mobile phone he handed over contained indecent images of young girls, even though he denied being responsible for any illegal internet use.

When interviewed, he suggested his Facebook account had been hacked and someone else was responsible.


Sumner was spared jail after a defence lawyer explained how he had 'descended into this world'.

A second phone was also recovered from his home and when the two devices were analysed, 64 indecent images were found.

Police experts discovered nine Category A - the most serious category - files, including one video, showing children being raped.



There were a further 11 Category B and 44 Category C images, along with one extreme porn image.

The images were downloaded over a near three-year period, between February 2015 and December 2017.

Mr Sumner was interviewed again, but still denied responsibility, and was set to stand trial last year.

However, ahead of the trial he admitted three counts of downloading and one of possessing indecent images, plus one count of possessing extreme porn.

He has four previous convictions for four unrelated offences, between 1999 and 2007, all resulting in discharges or fines. 



Andrew Costello, defending, said although Sumner repeated the claim that he had been hacked, he now accepted downloading the images and stood by his guilty pleas.

Mr Costello said Laura was diagnosed with cancer when their son and two daughters were aged 14 months and four and five-years-old respectively.

He said: 'He and his partner, there was a lot of coverage of the situation, because she sadly passed away within six weeks of being diagnosed.

'They were married and then she passed away, very shortly thereafter. He struggled to deal with that situation, as one might expect.

'Two years later, the family home was burgled and the photos he had of his late wife were stolen within that burglary.'

'At that point his world fell apart further than it already had with her loss.'



Judge Woodhall said: 'I follow all of that Mr Costello, which is powerful mitigation, but it cannot explain and does not explain a sexual interest in children.'

Mr Costello said it was not intended to, but the events prompted a 'descent into a very different lifestyle' involving alcohol and drug misuse, including taking ketamine.

He said his client 'entered into a world, existing in the night hours' and downloaded a lot of the images in the early hours of the morning 'when undoubtedly under the influence of drugs' and showing 'disinhibited behaviour'.

Mr Costello added: 'It might be some explanation how he descended into this world.'

'As a result of all these activities his children are now living with family. He has supervised contact with them through court orders.

'He's lost his accommodation. He lives a short distance from the court building at this time, in temporary accommodation.'



Mr Costello said although never acceptable, the number of images was 'not the highest' in these types of cases and the Probation Service believed work could be done with Sumner.

He said: 'He's in a position where he wants to undertake that work and explore further how he ended up here.'

Judge Woodhall said to Sumner's credit he now abandoned his claims of innocence and accepted responsibility.

He noted the 'difficult personal circumstances' Sumner had 'laboured under for 10 years or so'.

Judge Woodhall said as a consequence of his wife's death, Sumner suffered with mental health problems, then abused drugs and alcohol, a situation made worse when he was the victim of a burglary - all of which led to 'disinhibited behaviour'.



However, he said: 'You've denied any sexual interest in children to the probation officer. I reject that assertion. You obviously had a sexual interest in children. That in my judgement is why you sought out these sort of images.'

The judge said the Probation Service assessed Sumner as a low risk of re-offending and of causing serious harm.

He said: 'You're described as being willing and wanting to embrace help that can be offered to you, at a time when your life has reached rock bottom. As well as losing custody of your children you've lost your home.'

Judge Woodhall said given it was three years since the offences, Sumner had stayed out of trouble since, his 'significant personal mitigation' and his acceptance now that he needed help, he was 'just persuaded there is a realistic prospect of rehabilitation'.



He handed him 14 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and a 40-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement.

Judge Woodhall told Sumner to sign on the Sex Offenders Register and comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years.