A JUDGE told a Cumbrian child sex offender who has been "in denial" about his past offending that the downloading and possession of child abuse images are not a "victimless" crimes.

Judge Nicholas Barker made the comment after hearing about how 59-year-old Robert Helps admitted flouting a sexual harm prevention order on the day he was to take a police lie detector test.

Helps had kept a secret stash of 11 internet-enabled devices, including iPhones, a Samsung phone, and an internet-enabled TV, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

He should have disclosed them to the police so the devices could be fitted with monitoring software, as required by his sexual harm prevention order, the court heard. It was imposed by a court in Aylesbury in 2017 for indecent child images offences.

It also later emerged that Helps, who moved to Keswick to be nearer his parents, had been working in a Lake District shop where a schoolgirl was also employed. He had failed to tell his employer he was subject to a court order that forbids this.

Helps, of High Hill, Keswick, admitted two breaches of a sexual harm prevention order.

Charles Brown, prosecuting, said the first offence came to light in June just before Helps was due to take the lie detector test as part of his routine monitoring by police.

It was after this that the police searched his car and home and found the undisclosed devices.

The second breach, which involved Helps at times being alone in the shop with the schoolgirl, was discovered in September when the business owner became aware of Helps’ background and contacted the police.

Judith McCullough, for Helps, said the defendant had not engaged in any “nefarious” activities.

“These were not deliberate or sinister breaches of the order,” said the barrister, adding that Helps had lost his career as a result of his conviction for having child abuse images.

The defendant moved to Keswick to look after his elderly parents but they had both died within days of one another in 2018.

Judge Barker told Helps that he was “in denial” of his offending history. 

He told Helps: “I am firmly of the view that you continue to seek to distance yourself from that offending; to try to deny it and consign it to a hidden area; to ignore it.

"You were in denial of the existence of the prohibitions. But you must come to terms with it.”

The judge said: “The possession of indecent images are not victimless offences: those children being savagely abused in those images are real children. Were it not for the appetite of individuals like you to view that material then there would not be demand for them. Sexual harm prevention orders are there to protect children.”

The judge accepted the defendant had not sought out children or indecent images of them.

He imposed a 24- month community order, with 20 days of rehabilitation and a requirement to take a sex offender treatment programme. Helps must complete a two-month curfew, which will be electronically monitored.

Further breaches would not be tolerated, warned Judge Barker. The defendant’s original sexual harm prevention order, which remains in force, was imposed at Aylesbury Crown Court.

The Lucy Faithfull Foundation runs the StopItNow programme, a child sexual abuse prevention campaign and confidential helpline for any adult concerned about sexual abuse. Find out more on this link.

The STOP IT NOW! confidential helpline is on 0808 1000 900.