He called it a 'work of art' a judge had a very different word for it

William Strowbridge
-Credit: (Image: Merseyside Police)

A paedophile compared his collection of nearly 350,000 indecent images of children to a "piece of stolen art".

William Strowbridge spent 14 years hoarding a staggering amount of vile pictures and videos showing kids aged as young as three being raped. After being caught red handed, the grandad told the police that he had merely "stumbled across" such materials and found them "addictive".

Liverpool Crown Court heard yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, that Merseyside Police identified an IP address which linked the 70-year-old to the accessing of indecent images via BitTorrent and executed a search warrant at his home at around 8am on September 6 last year. When arrested, Strowbridge - of Prenton, Wirral - replied: "I stumbled across it and it was addictive."

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Oliver Saddington, prosecuting, described how a total of 14 electronic devices were seized from the property, with eight subsequently being found to hold illegal contents. This amounted to 742 indecent images in category A - those showing the most serious forms of abuse - as well as 620 in category B and 342,399 in category C.

Children shown in the pictures and videos were said to have been aged as young as three, with Strowbridge having been downloading them since November 2009. Under interview, he told detectives that he "had no explanation for his actions but felt an overwhelming sense of guilt".

The pensioner added that he "did not get sexual gratification from 99 per cent of the images" and said "it was like he had something that no one else had, like a piece of stolen art which he could not show anyone but could put in a vault and see occasionally". Strowbridge has no previous convictions.

Anna Duke, defending, told the court: "For a man of his age, to now receive a conviction for something of this nature is extremely devastating for his family. His children have now completely ostracised him.

"He does not have any contact with his children or grandchildren. That has been punishment in itself.

"There does appear to be genuine remorse. The defendant says he is relieved he has been caught, because this has been playing heavily on his mind for several years.

"The defendant would have no qualms if you were to send him immediately to custody today. That is why he has come to court with a very heavy bag.

"He does not take these proceedings lightly. Quite clearly, there are issues that need to be addressed.

"For all intents and purposes, he was a family man. The best way of challenging his deficient thinking is to impose an order which would allow the Probation Service to work with him to a high level and an intensive level."

Strowbridge admitted possession of indecent images of children and three counts of making indecent images. Appearing in the dock wearing a cream blazer over a mint green polo shirt, he was jailed for 18 months and handed a 10-year sexual harm prevention order.

Sentencing, Judge Ian Harris said: "This type of offending is offensive to right thinking members of society for a variety of reasons. They are photographs of children who are being abused.

"They have no consent over any of this. This was a vast cache of paedophilia which you had collected over these years."

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