A South Yorkshire man, who admitted to possessing thousands of images involving bestiality and child abuse involving kids as young as six, has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Judge Paul Watson QC sentenced 53-year-old Graham Southcombe to 10 months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered him to complete 140 hours of unpaid work during a hearing at Sheffield Crown Court on Wednesday, December 13.
Louise Gallagher, prosecuting, told the court how Southcombe's offending first came to light on March 27 last year after officers raided his home, acting on intelligence claiming he had been downloading indecent images of children.
"Mr Southcombe was not at home but was contacted at his place of work at 8.30am. Taken from his property were a number of electronic gadgets," Ms Gallagher said.
The court was told that a total of 121 videos and images of Category A level - defined as those which show children being raped - were found on Southcombe's devices following a forensic examination carried out by police.
A further 142 Category B images and videos as well as 442 images and videos deemed to be of a Category C level were also found on his devices.
Southcombe, of Hesley Court, Mexborough was also found to be in possession of 2,418 images and videos of 'extreme pornography' which showed human beings involved in sex acts with animals.
The illegal images involved children aged between six and 15-years-old, the court heard.
"He had made internet searches indicative of somebody looking for images of children," continued Ms Gallagher.
Southcombe admitted to three counts of possessing indecent images of children, as well as a further count of possessing a round of ammunition at an earlier hearing.
Defending, Connor Quinn, told the court that Southcombe had been battling anxiety, depression and excessive drinking, and had 'isolated himself from society' when the offending took place.
He continued: "These are areas that offence management could work with him on to reduce any risk of offending in the future."
The court was told that Southcombe, a former engineer, retired from his job in November this year due to 'embarassment' caused by the ongoing court proceedings.
Judge Watson said he would be able to take the 'extraordinary path' of giving Southcombe a suspended sentence due to the fact he had a clean criminal record, had taken steps to address the reasons for his offending and because he was deemed to pose a low risk of re-offending.
"It's clear you had a perverted sexual interest in sexual imagery involving very young children, as well as searching for sexual animal imagery," said Judge Watson, adding "Anybody that thinks that what people like you do in the privacy of their own homes is a victimless crime needs to know more.
"The sort of material you are viewing has been created using real children who are subjected to real trauma, whose lives are no doubt significantly impacted by the sort of content people like you seem to like to watch. It is anything but a victimless crime and is big business."
Judge Watson also ordered Southcombe to complete a 60-day rehabilitation activity requirement.