Dad-of-three claims he ‘descended into paedophilia’ after wife died of cancer

A dad caught downloading child rape images said he "descended" into paedophilia after his wife died of cancer suddenly.

Laura Pemberton, 29, from Huyton, died just six weeks after being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of the disease.

She wed her partner and dad of her three children, Gareth Sumner, the day before she passed away in June 2010.

Two years later, the young family's home was raided by burglars who took laptops and game consoles, reports the Liverpool Echo.

But the 39-year-old dad appeared at Liverpool Crown Court, having admitted downloading indecent images of children when high on drink and drugs.

Charles Lander, prosecuting, told the court police raided the family's home in First Avenue, Fazakerley on December 13, 2017.

Sumner denied being responsible for any illegal internet use before handing over a mobile phone, and it was "immediately apparent" the device contained indecent images of young girls.

He was arrested, but Sumner suggested his Facebook account had been hacked and someone else was responsible when interviewed.

A second phone was recovered from his phone, and after analysis was conducted on the two devices, 64 indecent images were discovered.

Nine Category A files were found, including one video showing a children being raped. There were a further 11 Category B and 44 Category C images, along with one extreme porn photo.

The court heard the images were downloaded between February 2015 and December 2017.

Sumner admitted three counts of downloading and one of possessing indecent images, plus one count of possessing extreme porn before a trial last year.

Andrew Costello, defending, said although the dad repeated the claim he had been hacked, he now accepted and stood by his guilty pleas.

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The counsel said: "He and his partner, there was a lot of coverage of the situation, because she sadly passed away within six weeks of being diagnosed.

"They were married and then she passed away, very shortly thereafter. He struggled to deal with that situation, as one might expect."

He added: "At that point his world fell apart further than it already had with her loss."

Judge Woodhall said: "I follow all of that Mr Costello, which is powerful mitigation, but it cannot explain and does not explain a sexual interest in children."

Mr Costello said the events prompted a "descent into a very different lifestyle" involving alcohol and drug misuse, including taking ketamine.

He said his client "entered into a world, existing in the night hours" and downloaded a lot of the images in the early hours of the morning "when undoubtedly under the influence of drugs" and showing "disinhibited behaviour".

Mr Costello added: "It might be some explanation how he descended into this world."

He said: "As a result of all these activities his children are now living with family. He has supervised contact with them through court orders."

Judge Woodhall said as a consequence of Laura's death, Sumner suffered with mental health problems, abused drugs and alcohol, and the situation was worsened when burglars targeted their home, which led to "disinhibited behaviour".

The judge added the Probation Service assessed Sumner as a low risk of re-offending and of causing serious harm.

The defendant was given 14 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and a 40-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement.

He was also made to sign the Sex Offenders Register and to comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years.

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