After a jury at Worcester Crown Court found a local pedophile guilty of three counts of producing child abuse images and one count of possession of an “extreme pornagraphic” picture depicting the abuse of an animal, a recorder sentenced the man to a two-year suspended sentence. The man had downloaded an unknown number of explicit pictures involving children from the darkweb, the court heard. In light of many recent cases involving similar content, some have pointed out the fact that very rarely does a pedophile avoid prison when the charges involve images that falls into the most extreme category of child abuse content.
In late August, a Worcester Crown Court jury found Jonathon Ozanne, a 57-year-old from Bromsgrove, guilty of making category A child abuse content, category B child abuse content, category C child abuse content, and possession of an image depicting the extreme sexual abuse of an animal. The jury reached the verdict unanimously. Due to the severe nature of child abuse crimes that involve category A content, Recorder John Benson QC issued a sexual harm protection order that prevented Ozanne from using any software to remain anonymous online; prevented Ozanne from deleting his internet history; and although the online anonymity clause likely covered the Tor and related software, the order also banned Ozanne from downloading or using any program that provided access to the darkweb.
The order ran through September 8, 2018. Ozanne’s sentencing hearing was scheduled for September 7, 2018, in front of Recorder John Benson QC at Worcester Crown Court. After the trial where the jury found Ozanne guilty of accessing the aforementioned content through the darkweb child abuse sites and similar forums, the recorder ordered the probation office to prepare a pre-sentence report. The recorder also warned Ozanne that the conviction for the category A content was “very serious” and warranted a severe prison sentence.
However, once Ozanne appeared for the sentencing hearing, Probation Officer Lynn Morris said, “I do not believe Mr Ozanne to be a high risk sexual offender in the community and with the right treatment has the potential to become a low risk sexual offender.” The probation officer explained that Ozanne understood the severity of his crimes. Furthermore, the probation officer said, “if he were to go to jail he would lose his home business, which he runs with his girlfriend. A jail sentence could be potentially catastrophic as she would not be able to carry on without his support.”
In contrast, Recorder John Benson QC voiced his concerns about Ozanne’s behavior. He said that Ozanne had admitted to the police that he had used the darkweb to download the illegal content and that he had downloaded content through other mediums as early as 2009. Yet, in the courtroom, Ozanne denied ever using “the dark web software” to download any illegal content. Ozanne denied ever accessing any of the content found on his computer and told the court that someone else had likely put the content there without his knowledge.
The recorder told Ozanne that blaming someone else for accessing the content was a “terrible thing to do.” He also said that Ozanne had intentionally “downloaded the dark web” to view child abuse material. The recorder recognized that Ozanne had been both sick and poor at the time of his arrest and that his mental condition was not ideal. He called the evidence that led to Ozanne’s conviction “powerful.” But he also recognized that the Probation Office report meant that Ozanne could change. “Based on what Miss Morris has told the court today, your poor health and the fact it’s been three years since your initial arrest, I believe a two-year suspended sentence to be a fitting punishment,” the recorder said.
Before closing, the recorder warned that if Ozanne violated the terms of his suspended sentence or committed any new crimes, he would immediately send Ozanne to prison for one year. In addition to the two years of government supervision, Ozanne must pay a fine, complete a treatment program, and destroy his computer. His access to the internet and electronic devices will be heavily restricted and he will not be allowed to work with or around children.