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Ipswich Santa’s child porn shame after paedophile hunters caught him in honey trap

PUBLISHED: 09:02 17 June 2015 | UPDATED: 15:07 17 June 2015

Man with indecent images spared jail

Man with indecent images spared jail

A 63-year-old toy store worker who played Santa at Christmas has been spared jail after being snared in a honey trap by Dutch paedophile hunters.

Michael Potter’s home in Glamorgan Road, Ipswich, was raided by the National Crime Agency (NCA) in December last year after he conversed with what he believed to be a 10-year-old child in an internet chatroom.

Potter was sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court to a two-year prison term, suspended for two years. He had previously admitted five counts of distributing indecent images and a further five of possession around 1,500 indecent images.

A total of 156 of the images were at Level A – the most serious grading for child pornography.

In addition to his suspended sentence Potter was barred from working with children and made the subject of a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order. He must also sign the sex offenders register for 10 years and undergo the Thames Valley Sexual Offender Treatment programme.

It was in court that Potter worked for Toys R Us however it was not clear where he had dressed up as Santa.

The court heard Potter’s offending occurred from the end of 2007 to 2014.

He was caught after going into a internet chatroom via Skype. However, a Dutch charity had set up a honey trap to see if it could lure those interested in child pornography.

Under an assumed address its image was an avatar the charity had designed itself.

At around 10.15am on June 13, 2013, Potter became involved in a conversation with what he believed was a young girl.

In a transcript of that exchange Potter was asked: “You don’t mind I’m 10?” He replied that he did not.

On October 7, 2013, Potter was communicating with a real person in a chatroom who was using a false name.

A conversation took place about a young girl’s underwear.

As a result of the communication with the Dutch charity the NCA was contacted and officers raided Potter’s home.

The five distribution charges involved six images exchanged in the chatrooms. Three were category B images while two the were category C. There was also a Category A images which showed the handcuffing of a child’s wrist to their leg.

Potter’s counsel Craig Marchant told the court his client could not explain why he had downloaded the images.

However, Judge Martyn Levett told Potter: “I have reached the conclusion this was all done for your sexual gratification.

“You ought to be thoroughly ashamed of yourself. You were engaging in an enthusiastic and lascivious manner.

“Downloading indecent images of children perpetuates a market and encourages the making of more and more images of children. Those children might be harmed by the knowledge there’s some perverted gratification by adults gained by looking at them.

“The harm caused (to the children) can never really be quantified especially if later in their lives those images are available on the internet.”

“People don’t appreciate the harm they are doing to children.”

The judge added webcam tourism, which Potter also indulged in, proliferates the operation of organised crime gangs who exploit young girls.

Judge Levett stressed commercial exploitation of children leads to vast psychological damage.”

However he told Potter that if he was sent to jail he would not get treatment for his compulsion.

Suspending the prison term, the judge said: “There is, in my judgment a realistic prospect of some rehabilitation.”

Potter must also pay £1,600 in costs and victim surcharge.


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