A COMPANY director was exposed as a paedophile after leaving a computer memory stick in a solicitors’ office.
Stephen Butterworth, 68, had no previous convictions and had “triumphed” over a difficult childhood, having been brought up in care, Hull Crown Court heard.
But a different side to his character emerged when he dropped and lost the USB storage device during a visit to Heptonstalls solicitors in Goole on April 24 last year.
Keen to find out who the owner was, staff plugged it into a computer and had a “nasty shock” when it displayed indecent photographs of children, as well as documents belonging to Butterworth.
Police were called and searched his home in Bretton Avenue, Goole, where they found a further five memory sticks on which he had stored indecent images of children.
In total, he had 879 indecent images, including 125 films.
Of the photographs, eight were designated at Category A – the most serious – while 13 were Category B, and 733 were Category C.
There were two films at Category A, 18 at B, and 105 at Category C.
The youngest victim was aged five and the eldest 13, but most of the images featured girls aged between eight and ten.
The court heard Butterworth downloaded the images at work and stored them on external devices.
It was not known how long he had been downloading the images for as his work computers automatically deleted their internet search history after a certain period.
Butterworth is a sole director of two companies employing 30 people, and the lead negotiator for a property consortium which is planning to develop farmland, the court heard.
Paul Norton, defending, said: “He has been asked to continue in that capacity even though he offered to resign because of these offences.
“They thought only he was the appropriate person to do it.”
Mr Norton also said Butterworth’s family and friends had shown “significant loyalty” to him by offering support.
Referring to a pre-sentence report, Mr Norton said Butterworth was “keen to address the motivations of his offending and to avoid the commission of further offences”.
He had also engaged with the child protection charity Lucy Faithfull Foundation, Mr Norton said.
Judge Mark Bury sentenced Butterworth to a three-year community order, with a requirement that he attend 45 sessions of the Northumbria sex offenders’ treatment programme.
The judge said each image represented an abusive episode for a young child, and told Butterworth: “The gravamen of these offences is that, while there are people such as yourself to look at these images, there will be a market to abuse children and that’s the serious matter of these offences.”
Butterworth must sign the sex offenders’ register for five years and was made subject to a sexual offences prevention order for the same period.
Hull Daily Mail