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Paedophile carried on offending by downloading thousands of images of child abuse at rehab

A ‘dangerous’ paedophile carried on offending by downloading thousands of images of child abuse while attending taxpayer-funded rehab after he was spared jail.

Matthew Prescott, 27, from St Helens, Merseyside, avoided jail in 2016 after being caught with more than 4,000 sickening images and was instead told to attend specialist rehabilitation courses.

But while taking part in the programme to stop his sick fantasies, he ‘duped’ the authorities by continuing to download illicit images of child abuse.

The paedophile has been branded as ‘dangerous’ by a judge after his sick fantasies were exposed by two further police investigations, after he was initially spared jail for his initial crimes.

On Friday, Prescott was jailed for more than two years after Liverpool Crown Court heard he not only downloaded almost 2,000 further videos and pictures, but also shared some of them.

But Prescott claimed the images of children being raped had been collected by one of his twisted alter-egos.

Matthew Prescott (pictured), 27, from St Helens, avoided jail in 2016 after being caught with more than 4,000 sickening images and was instead told to attend rehabilitation courses

He told a psychiatrist his latest stash of sickening pictures and video was not his responsibility, but that of ‘Alex’. 

Alex is one of five personalities the 27-year-old said took over him, claiming: ‘Alex was just there for himself. I’ve tried to get rid of him so many times.’ 

At a previous court hearing, forensic psychiatrist Dr Lucy Bacon said she had diagnosed Prescott with emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD).

Michael Hagerty, defending, accepted this was not a defence to the charges he had admitted.

He said of his client: ‘There were significant problems he had as a child, particularly with his father, though that relationship is now good, and there were confusing issues with regard to his relationship with his mother.’

Mr Hagerty said Prescott set out claims about having ‘multiple personalities’, but Dr Bacon said this ‘disassociation’ was a common symptom of EUPD.

He said: ‘Mr Prescott does not look for sympathy in relation to his actions but now he has a diagnosis, rather hopes he will be able to obtain help for his condition, either in a custodial setting, or once he’s released.’

Back in May 2016, Prescott was convicted of three counts of downloading and one count of possessing indecent images of children. 

He walked free from Liverpool Crown Court after he was handed a three-year community order and told to comply with a five-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

But last summer, police intelligence led to a raid home, and officers discovered almost 2,000 more pictures and videos in his possession.

The haul included 240 files classed as Category A – the most severe category showing child rape – and which included an image of a newborn baby.

There were 259 Category B images, of boys as young as five to seven, and 1,330 Category C files, of boys as young as three to five. 

But he 'duped' authorities as he downloaded thousands of illicit images while at rehab and was jailed for more than two years at Liverpool Crown Court (pictured) on Friday

But he ‘duped’ authorities as he downloaded thousands of illicit images while at rehab and was jailed for more than two years at Liverpool Crown Court (pictured) on Friday

On a Samsung mobile phone, police discovered the social media app Whisper, which Prescott had used to share around two dozen Category C images. 

Data showed Prescott was accessing illicit images as early as September 2016 – despite being under the restrictions of the community and sexual harm prevention orders.

While under investigation for those offences, officers raided his Cotham Street home again on April 15.

Chris Taylor, prosecuting, said the National Crime Agency had linked a Category A image of a child uploaded on the messaging platform Kik to Prescott and tipped off Merseyside Police.

Officers seized a laptop that had almost two dozen Category C images on it and found that Prescott had also been interacting with other paedophiles online. 

A pre-sentence report suggested Prescott had ‘duped’ those monitoring his progression and after he was arrested in June 2020, had kept engaging with images of child abuse.

Referring to the timing of Prescott’s offending the judge, Recorder Ian Unsworth, QC, said: ‘You are a prolific paedophile and, not withstanding the previous orders, you continued unabated in your deepest and darkest fantasies.’ 

After two no comment interviews, he later admitted four counts of downloading, two counts of possessing and one count of distributing indecent images of children.

The distribution charge related to around two dozen Category C images.  

Prescott, who appeared in court on Friday via a video link from HMP Altcourse, was sentenced him to 30 months behind bars and given a lifelong Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

Sentencing Prescott on Friday, Mr Unsworth said: ‘Describing categories in the way that the court is required to do simply cannot ever do justice to the true horror of the images that you have been viewing unabated for years.’

He added: ‘Each and every one of the hundreds if not thousands of children that you have looked at over the years is a victim.

‘Each and every one of them is being exploited by other paedophiles, by those who are carrying out their vile abuse upon them, those who are filming them and those who are, like you, viewing them.’ 


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