A RETIRED local government worker has been sentenced by a judge for downloading hundreds of child abuse images.
Police initially seized electronic devices from 79-year-old Robert Hawkins after executing a search warrant in August, 2018. It emerged an illegal child image collection had been amassed by him during a four-year period.
But Carlisle Crown Court heard how, despite being initially arrested, Hawkins‘ deeply concerning criminal conduct continued. He was detained again last June.
“He had bought a new laptop and used it to re-enter such chat rooms where the sexual abuse of children was discussed,” said prosecutor Charles Brown.
“Written fantasies”, depicting sexual activity with youngsters, were also found.
Hawkins, of Greenacres, Plumpton, near Penrith, admitted making indecent photographs of children – 159 in the most serious category A class, 168 category B and 493 category C – and showing an illegal image.
Sean Harkin, defending, said Hawkins – a man of previous good character – was taking steps, voluntarily, to address his offending behaviour. A “respected member of the community”, Hawkins had spent most of his career working in local government, the court heard, and latterly taken an active role with various local history societies. “He is thoroughly sorry and ashamed for what he’s done,” Mr Harkin stated.
After considering all evidence and submissions, Judge Barker concluded prison would not address Hawkins’ problems. He instead imposed a 36-month community order comprising treatment programme attendance and a rehabilitation requirement, telling the pensioner: “This is designed to both assist you and protect the public.”
Hawkins must sign the sex offender register and abide by the terms of a prevention order for five years.