Internet groomer in court

4 May 2011  ..........  Tony Spencer leaves Leeds Crown court
4 May 2011 .......... Tony Spencer leaves Leeds Crown court

A CLECKHEATON man arrested for grooming a 12-year-old girl had more than 1,000 pornographic images of children on his computer, a court has heard.

Tony Spencer, 34, was netted after he made friends with the girl on social networking website Facebook.

Leeds Crown Court heard that Spencer told the girl his name, his mobile phone number, where he lived and worked and sent photographs of himself.

He kept in contact with her over a 12 week period.

He told her she was ‘sexy’, discussed sexual positions with her and asked to meet her.

He also told her he loved her and said that he wanted to go to her house for sex.

When he was arrested police found 1,018 illegal images on his computer, which was seized from his home in Westgate, Cleckheaton.

Prosecutor Richard Wright told the court last Wednesday that in interview Spencer had claimed an old school friend had forced him to download the images, and had told him to then meet him in a park to hand them over.

But his story was dismissed after it was discovered he continued to download images after the date he claimed to have met the man.

Spencer pleaded guilty to one offence of inciting a child under 12 to engage in sexual activity and 23 offences of making an indecent photograph of a child.

Freddy Apfel, mitigating, said 1,008 of the images were at grade one — the least serious grade.

He said Spencer had stopped downloading the images long before he was arrested.

He told the court the case was unusual as Spencer’s offending was because of his low intelligence.

He said the defendant had downloaded the images out of curiosity and there was never any intention of him meeting the girl.

Mr Apfel said the victim had not been adversely affected by her contact with Spencer.

Judge Geoffrey Marsden said he was taking the ‘exceptional’ option of sentencing Spencer to a three year community and supervision order rather than sending him to prison.

He ordered Spencer to go on a sex offender programme to understand his behaviour.