A York businessman who took covert video footage of a naked woman and downloaded indecent images of children has been jailed for two years.
Andrew Stephenson, 38, was arrested in April 2021 when he protested his innocence and told officers he “couldn’t believe” he was under suspicion, York Crown Court heard.
Police seized his electronic devices including a mobile phone on which they found indecent images of children and photos which Stephenson had doctored to make them sexual in nature, said prosecutor David Hewitt.
Stephenson told officers he had been in a WhatsApp group where “unsavoury” images had been circulated.
He claimed he had cancelled his membership of that group and then joined an adult pornographic website on which he stumbled across indecent images of young girls.
However, analysis of his phone revealed he had searched for and downloaded about 25 indecent images of both girls and boys. One of the images featured a boy between eight and 10 years of age and a Category B video featured a girl between six and eight years old.
Stephenson, a self-employed businessman with employees, had also downloaded Photoshop software to create a pseudo pornographic image of a young girl.
He used the specialist software to superimpose the images of two men onto the photo and doctored the image in such a way as to make it look like they were sexually touching the youngster.
He doctored another innocuous image of an eight-year-old girl by cropping her from a photo of a group of children and adding a red arrow pointing to an intimate part of her body.
He had further “manipulated” the image by removing the girl’s shorts from the photo and “zoomed in to focus (on an intimate area)”, said Mr Hewitt.
He said that Stephenson’s browser history showed he had searched for sexual images of children, albeit on an adult pornographic site.
Forensic analysis of Stephenson’s phone also showed he had been taking covert video footage of a woman in a state of undress.
Stephenson had doctored some of these images, one of which was “edited to include an adult male” to create the impression that the man was sexually assaulting the victim.
Several other images were doctored to “superimpose other males into the image” to make it pornographic.
Victim felt ‘sick and dirty’
Stephenson, of Farro Drive, York, ultimately admitted two counts of making indecent images of children between January and April 2021 and two counts of making or producing pseudo indecent images of minors.
He also pleaded guilty to voyeurism in relation to the adult female victim.
He appeared for sentence at the Crown Court yesterday (Monday, 17 April).
In a statement read out in court, the victim said she had been “profoundly” affected by Stephenson’s behaviour.
She said it had left her “feeling sick and dirty” and that it appeared Stephenson had shown “no remorse”.
Stephenson, a father-of-two, had ten previous convictions for 17 offences including harassment.
Defence barrister Nicholas Wragg said that Stephenson had mental-health issues and had been suffering from insomnia during the Covid lockdown which led him to the internet in the dead of night.
He said that Stephenson, who also has a property in Leeds, was “entirely remorseful” for the offences and had undergone sexual therapy since his arrest.
He added that Stephenson was a “very hard-working” man and had been the sole breadwinner for his family.
Judge Simon Hickey jailed Stephenson for two years and made him subject to a 10-year sexual-harm prevention order, mainly to curb his internet activities.
Stephenson was also ordered to sign on the sex-offenders’ register for 10 years and fined £140.