Accounts clerk jailed for Dark Web downloads of child images

·2-min read
Mark Dale (NCA)
Mark Dale (NCA)

An accounts clerk has been jailed for two-and-a-half years and branded a “risk to young girls” after being caught downloading more than 14,000 indecent images of children.

Mark Dale, 45, was arrested in July last year after a National Crime Agency probe linked computers at his home to a known paedophile forum on the Dark Web.

Officers found Dale had used specialist software to disguise his identity while touring online chatrooms in his hunt for illegal material, amassing a catalogue of illegal material.

Snaresbrook crown court heard Dale, who spent five years working for Transport for London, was first caught out in 2011 when he tried to incite a young girl into sexual activity.

Calling himself Mark de Spong in online chatrooms, Dale asked the girl to get a webcam and asked if she would “make love” with him, unaware he was actually in conversation with an undercover journalist.

He was convicted again and jailed in 2019 after going online to try to groom a child into sexual activity.

Dale downloaded the mass of child images last year shortly after being freed from prison, and knowing he was the subject of a sexual harm prevention order.

Sentencing Dale today, Judge Sandy Canavan told him: “You have an abiding sexual interest in children, you want to do more than merely look at them, and at the very least you want to communicate with them.

“There’s a real risk that may go further. You pose a risk to young girls from your behaviour.”

Dale bowed his head and sobbed as the judge said: “Each image involves actual children being sexually abused, these aren’t made-up children. They are real children suffering so people like you can indulge their sexual fantasies.

“You might not have gone out and sexually abused them yourself, but you create the market for people of your ilk.”

Dale, from Romford, had been living under the terms of a court order designed to curb his sexual offending since his first conviction in 2011.

He admitted breach of a sexual harm prevention order and six counts of making indecent images of children. At an earlier court hearing, he tearfully insisted “I’m not a danger to children” and blamed his actions on the recent death of his father.

“He is motivated to turn the corner from a very dark chapter in his life”, said Ria Banerjee, representing Dale.

“He recognises he has essentially ruined his life through committing these offences.”

NCA Operations Manager Martin Ludlow said: “Every image or video Dale downloaded and viewed depicts a child being exploited.

“This is an individual with a history of committing child sexual abuse offences. His willingness to continue with his behaviour, and use of the Dark Web to try and circumvent those who were monitoring him, shows a total disregard for victims, and the seriousness of his crimes.”

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