Co Down teenager caught with hundreds of child abuse images given community service and probation

Court
Court

A Co Down teenager who continued to dupe schoolboys into sending him indecent pictures even after being caught with hundreds of child sex abuse images, was yesterday freed on a combination order of 100 hours community service and two years’ probation.

Belfast Crown Court Judge Geoffrey Miller QC told 18-year-old Owen Mounsey he would have preferred to have suspended his sentence but did not have the power to do so.

Mounsey admitted 48 charges between 2014 and 2016. He was arrested at his Station Road home in Holywood following a joint investigation by the National Crime Agency and PSNI.

In addition to downloading paedophile sex abuse manuals and images of children being abused, he tricked three schoolboys to send him pictures, in various states of undress, which he shared with a Dutchman who had tutored him on how to get others to pose for him.

Judge Miller told Mounsey that his was one of the most serious cases he has dealt with in nine years on the bench.

“Another specific and troubling aspect,” said the judge, was Mounsey’s breach of bail where he “deliberately sought out his child victims with further approaches”.

However Judge Miller that because of his admissions from the outset, and his guilty pleas, Mounsey, who was sexually abused himself, was entitled to credit.

Judge Miller said while the “internet offers many opportunities ... sadly there is also a dark side involving corruption and exploitation where images such as those downloaded by the defendant are readily available.

“These include acts of violence and depravity many involving very young and vulnerable children, and some are to be found in the images found on the defendant’s computers.”

Prosecution lawyer Simon Jenkins said among the 954 images, including 54 videos, recovered from various devices, almost a third were in the most serious Category A, one of which showed a boy aged four or five being abused.

He also said Mounsey had tricked others, aged 11 to 12, to send him pictures of themselves, with promises of video game credits, and continued to do so even when on police bail.

He claimed the teenager also accepted he had read paedophile manuals he “inadvertently” downloaded.

Defence counsel Barry Gibson said the offences took place when Mounsey was still a youth and when he was confused about his gender.

Mr Gibson said the teenager immediately accepted his guilt and added that reports, both psychiatric and probation, indicated that Mounsey has come out of his “difficult journey” a “better person”.