- Andrew Townsend of Manchester downloaded hundreds of photographs
- But he was allowed to walk free from court by Judge Lindsey Kushner
- She looked at a sample of the 1,400 images before sentencing Townsend
- Could not bear to watch one video featuring extremely graphic content
A paedophile who downloaded child pornography so horrific that a judge could not even bear to watch the evidence tapes has been allowed to walk free from court.
Andrew Townsend, 51, of Hulme, Manchester, downloaded hundreds of vile photographs but was allowed to walk free after the judge ruled he would not learn his lesson behind bars.
Judge Lindsey Kushner, who looked at a sample of the 1,400 images before sentencing him, said she could not bear to watch all the contents of one of the videos featuring extremely graphic content.
Judge Lindsey Kushner ruled he would not learn his lesson behind bars
Townsend admitted 11 counts of downloading and sharing the pictures and videos after police raided his home in April last year. The judge said that what he did was not a victimless crime.
Judge Kusher told him: ‘You must be aware the subjects of these images are not indifferent to what is happening to you. The public must be made aware of just how infectious this material is.’
But the judge, sitting at Manchester Crown Court, rejected the option of sending Townsend to prison and instead gave him a three-year community order.
The court was told the rigorous programme, supervised by specialist probation officers, would not be available to him if he went to prison.
Judge Kushner said: ‘I’m not doing this because I’m frightened of sending someone to prison.
‘This is a successful programme with proven results. It is not to get people through the system quicker or to save money.’
Community order: Townsend admitted 11 counts of downloading and sharing the pictures and videos after police raided his home in April last year. The judge said that what he did was not a victimless crim
The court was told Townsend co-operated immediately with police when they seized computers, telling them where to find the images.
Judge Kushner described Townsend, who works in a bank, as a ‘quiet little man’ leading a humdrum life. He was diagnosed with HIV in 2001, and after a period of depression became more reclusive.
He began downloading relatively mild child porn and then progressed to hardcore images, sharing them with other people. His defence lawyer said Townsend was relieved when he was caught and was genuinely ashamed.
The court was told the likely 12 months he would spend in prison would mean he would not be able to get the help he needed to stop him re-offending.
Townsend was banned from unsupervised contact with under-16s and restrictions were placed on his use of the internet and computers.