Isle of Man Suspect Downloaded the Worst Child Abuse Content Available
A 24-year-old from Castletown, Isle of Man, downloaded the most severe child abuse videos from the darknet, a Magistrates heard after deciding they lacked the ability to adequately sentence the suspect. Magistrates believed the maximum sentence they could impose—six months in custody—would not have served as a harsh enough punishment. And as a result, in July, the man will attend a hearing at the Court of General Gaol Delivery where he faces a much lengthier sentence.
The defendant, Paul James Sales, had downloaded nine illegal pictures and videos from an unknown site on the darknet, the court heard. Sales told the court that he had learned about the darknet through one of his friends. He said that he had been looking to purchase steroids and learned that he could likely find any illicit substance on the darknet. Somehow, he explained, nine illegal pictures and videos ended up on his phone.
He said said that since he did not know how to access the darknet, he had to watch YouTube videos for instruction. It was not clear if Sales indicated that there was a connection between his child abuse content and YouTube. This seemed like an otherwise unnecessary detail. So did the explanation of how he had even gotten to the point where child abuse content could have accidentally slipped onto his phone. Disclosing a hunt for illegal substances seems like something one would rather not admit in a case that has nothing to do with illegal substances.
And even if, somehow, the steroid search could have provided a reasonable explanation for why the content had moved from a darknet site to his phone, that was not exactly the problem the authorities had with the case. The severity or extremity of the videos was what led the Magistrates to the decision on not sentencing Sales. According to Prosecutor Barry Swain, one of the videos downloaded by Sales ranked the worst on the Copine scale. Seven of the videos ranked second worst. Only one video fell into category three (out of five).
Even though Sales admitted he had known what the videos had depicted prior to opening them, Stephen Wood, for the defense, argued that Sales had no interest in underage children and did not like the content he saw in one of the videos (Sales maintains that he had only watched part of one of the videos). “They say curiosity killed the cat which is perhaps very apt in this case,” Prosecutor Swain told the court.
The court permitted Sales to remain free on bail until his upcoming hearing at the Court of General Gaol Delivery on July 6.