Paignton man sent to sex offender treatment program

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A 34-year-old man is in a sex offender treatment program after being found guilty of uploading child abuse images. Lee Bennett, of Kinghurst Drive, Paignton, was caught with dozens of images of children on his phone when police raided his home in November 2020.

He initially denied any sexual interest in children. But he admitted three offenses of making or uploading indecent images when he appeared in court.

Bennett was spared jail time after being assessed as a good prospect for rehabilitation. He received an eight-month suspended prison sentence with an obligation to complete the Horizon sex offender treatment program.

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Prosecutor Mr Felicity Payne said 13 images depicting the most common type of child abuse were found when police executed the warrant and analyzed his device. Some of the abused children were only five or six years old.

Bennett’s internet search history also revealed an interest in children. The offenses cover a period of more than two years, Ms Payne said. Ms Rachel Smith, defending, said Bennett had become interested in adult pornography.

Judge David Evans said the sentence should have been decided by magistrates rather than sent to Crown Court due to the relatively low number of images.

“It’s a course of offense over a two-year period,” he said. The delays in the case had been caused by the time it took to scan the device.

Bennett’s sentence was suspended for 18 months. Along with completing the course, he must also do 30 days of probationary rehabilitation. Bennett was also the subject of a sexual abuse prevention order restricting his online activity.

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