Stephen Chowles (pictured above), a 47-year-old man hailing from Frobisher Green, Torquay, Devon, hosted a library of images and videos depicting some form of child pornography and totaling more than 4,000 in number on his home computer.
At least 200 of those images showed the graphic and sadistic sexual and physical abuse of children as young as 3-months-old, BBC News reports.
Even though he admitted to nine offenses of actually making indecent images of children, and even though the judge at Exeter Crown Court was appalled by the case, many deem the sentence Chowles received to be a light one.
That’s because he’s getting only two years in jail and being forced to sign the sex offenders registry for the rest of his life. He will also be subjected to a “Sexual Harm Prevention Order,” which the news site notes “will enable the police to monitor his future use of computers.”
Judge Francis Gilbert QC explained the atrocities in statements aimed directly at Stephen Chowles but spared the press an overly graphic description.
“These offenses are of the worst possible sort,” the Judge said. “That anyone can watch this material and go on doing so for 18 months demonstrates the most appalling depravity. Your offending also involves images of children tied up and in appalling pain.”
Judge Gilbert continued, “It is sometimes said these are victimless crimes because they only involve downloading, but in reality people who watch such appalling material for their own sexual gratification are encouraging the commission of very serious offenses against child victims.”
In all, BBC News adds, Chowles was in possession of “220 category A images, which are the most serious, 258 at category B, which shows less serious abuse, and 4,180 at category C, which shows nudity.”
Most people understand that for child pornography of any kind to be produced, an actual child must be harmed. But that hasn’t stopped individuals like Nigel Oldfield from speaking out for the rights of pedophiles and actually going on record in this interview of emphasizing the “victimless crime” myth.
Most commenters do not see it that way in the case of Oldfield or Stephen Chowles.
The Plymouth Herald’s take on the story was met with some particularly appalled backlash as one commenter said that a two-year sentence for Chowles’ crimes “proves the judge [is] not on the same frequency.” The commenter calls Stephen Chowles a “serious threat to the members of the public” and that he is “vile scum.”
Another said that if she were to voice her opinion on the man, “I would be jailed… and probably for longer than TWO YEARS!!! Utterly despicable sentence!”
Do you think Stephen Chowles was given a light sentence? And should viewing and/or owning images of child pornography be met with mandatory jail time? Sound off in the comments section.
[Image of Stephen Chowles via mugshot c/o BBC News, linked above]