Man caught with 1,500 indecent images and videos of children avoids jail

Ipswich Crown Court

Christopher Welham avoided an immediate prison sentence at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Archant

An Ipswich man caught with more than 1,500 indecent images and videos of children has been handed a suspended sentence. 

Christopher Welham, 56, appeared at Ipswich Crown Court for sentence on Wednesday after previously pleading guilty to three charges of making indecent images of children and a further count of being in possession of prohibited images.

The offences first came to light in January 2019 when Welham was being investigated for a separate offence. 

As part of that investigation, police seized Welham's mobile phone to access text messages and following analysis, officers discovered the indecent images. 

Police found 28 images of the most serious grade - category A - along with 51 videos at that level. 

A further 34 category B indecent images were discovered along with 48 videos of that grade. 

Welham, of St George's Street, Ipswich, was also found to have 1,333 images and 21 videos at category C and 37 prohibited images of children and 15 videos. 

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Welham was due to be sentenced on Monday, June 14, but the case was adjourned to allow a pre-sentence report to be completed by the Probation Service. 

On Wednesday, Recorder Sally O'Neill QC sentenced Welham to three months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered him to complete up to 40 rehabilitation activity requirement days. 

He was made subject to a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) for seven years and placed on the sex offenders' register for the same length of time. 

Welham must also pay £340 in costs and a victim surcharge of £122. 

DC Leia Dowsing, investigating officer, said the weight of evidence against Welham led to his guilty plea. 

"When this offending first came to light Welham at first explained he denied downloading them and couldn’t explain how they were found on his phone," she said. 

"However, the weight of evidence against him ultimately led to his guilty plea. Internet crimes such as these are far from victimless and every image depicts the very real abuse a young child has suffered.

"We will do everything within our power to protect victims who are subjected to these potentially life changing acts of indecency purely for the gratification of others.”