A New Brighton man has been sentenced for sexual activity with a child.
Christopher Smith, 41, of New Brighton appeared today (Friday 17 February) at Liverpool Crown Court after pleading guilty to engaging in sexual activity with a child, making indecent photographs of a child, distributing indecent photographs of a child and taking indecent photographs of a child.
His offending came to light when police from Devon and Cornwall were investigating a man in that area and took electronic devices from him. It was found that this man had been in communication with Smith and had been sent sexual images of children by him.
Smith told the man that he was a paedophile who sexually abused children while they were asleep. He sent a video of himself confessing to the abuse and talked of surrendering himself to a “master” who wanted him to do these things. He said he was a paedophile and added “there is no way to get out of this.”
Smith was arrested at his home on 18 November 2022 and images matching those found on the other man’s devices were discovered.
He was sentenced to six years in prison plus four years on extended licence. The Crown Prosecution Service also successfully applied for a Sexual Harm Prevention order which was granted by the court. It prohibits Smith from using a computer and having any unsupervised contact with children.
The case followed an investigation by Merseyside Police’s Specialist Online Child Abuse Investigation Team (OCAIT).
The team consists of experienced Detectives who are specially trained in online child abuse investigations in order to both prevent and detect online abuse.
Detective Superintendent Steve Reardon, Head of OCAIT, said, “Anybody who is viewing, possessing, producing or distributing indecent images is sustaining the distressing and damaging worldwide exploitation and violation of children.
“Merseyside Police is committed to child safety and our specialist OCAIT detectives will thoroughly investigate all such reports. I would like to take this opportunity to reassure anyone who has suffered a sexual offence that if you can find the courage to come forward and speak to us, we will treat you with sensitivity and compassion.
“Merseyside Police has specialist officers in the Online Child Abuse Investigation Team (OCAIT) who work tirelessly with other agencies to identify offenders, no matter where in the world they live or what devices they use.
“We also work with other UK forces, agencies and the Child Exploitation Online Protection centre as well as law enforcement agencies across the world who share our determination to protect children from depraved and dangerous offenders online.”
Senior Crown Prosecutor Pauline Newrick, a specialist prosecutor with CPS Mersey Cheshire’s Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) unit, said, “This is a case of someone pursuing their own sexual gratification at the expense of children who either knew nothing of what was happening to them or understood nothing.
“In a video to the person he was sharing these indecent images with Smith refers to a person he is involved with on line as “Master”. He was in a voluntary relationship with this person and was subservient to him. He tried to minimise his criminal activity by blaming the master in this relationship and saying he was only doing what he was told. He claimed to have no sexual interest in children, but his interest lay in being subservient and doing what he was told
“To claim there was no way out of the abuse because he had to do it, is another way of avoiding responsibility for his criminal activity. These were innocent children who were dragged into an adult world that they knew nothing of .
“Christopher Smith is a predatory paedophile who is now facing the consequences of the offending that he tried to explain away. The consequences of the actions of people like Smith on the victims can be devastating. The Crown Prosecution Service works hard with the Police to bring them to justice and help the victims find their voice.”
Anyone with information or who wants to report sexual offence allegations is asked to call 101 where you will be spoken to by specially trained officers or you can pass information to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Support for victims is also available through the registered charity the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre Cheshire and Merseyside, who can be contacted on 01925 221 546 or 0330 363 0063 or Rape and Sexual Assault Merseyside (RASA) on 0151 558 1801
Image: Christopher Smith/Merseyside Police