Morgan Overton, who is studying for a music degree, claimed the offences he’d committed were a form of ‘self harm’
A pedophile blamed the death of a friend for leading to his collection of nearly 700 photographs of children being sexually abused.
Morgan Overton, a music student, was said to have entered a dark place after his school friend died, and claimed that the images and videos he’d amassed which featured boys as young as one-year-old was ‘a method of self-harm’.
Overton, 20, appeared at Leicester Crown Court on Tuesday for sentencing after pleading guilty to having 682 images and video files on his laptop computer.
In July 2018, when Overton was 18, Leicestershire Police went to his family home in Springfield Way, Oakham, to search his electronic devices but he was away at university.
Overton’s father accompanied the detectives to Birmingham University and Overton was spoken to at his halls of residence in the city and handed over his laptop and phone.
He was only interviewed by the police in March the following year.
Samuel Lowne, prosecuting, told the court: “He spoke at length about his personal life and how the trigger was the death of a school friend, which sent him on a ‘dark path’.
“He said this was something risky and dangerous and would fill the void in his life – the need for self-destruction.”
He pleaded guilty to three counts of making indecent images at Leicester Magistrates’ Court.
The child abuse files included pictures of boys aged from one to 15, and Overton’s computer also showed he had shared the internet links to indecent images with other pedophiles online, although he was not charged with distributing child pornography.
His computer included software to let him surf the internet anonymously and also to access to the “dark web”, which contains sites that cannot be found with ordinary search engines.
Dreya Becker, representing Overton, said: “This is a young man who went through a very difficult time when he engaged in self-harm, made suicide attempts and describes himself as being in a very dark place and struggled with his sexual identity.
“He went down the rabbit hole – there was chat, legal pornography and that descended into illegal images. It was a form of self-harm.”
She said Overton was still an undergraduate at Birmingham University and the conviction could lead to action by the university and would have a “substantial impact” on his family and his future.
She said: “Mr Overton has repeatedly expressed his deep shame. He understands his actions were not victimless – his downloading perpetuates an industry where children are harmed.
“He may face consequences at university and he is desperately worried this will mean he will lose opportunities.”
Judge Robert Brown sentenced Overton to a three-year community order with 20 days of one-to-one therapy to help him avoid re-offending.
Overton will also have to do 120 hours of unpaid work and will be subject to a five-year sexual harm prevention order and have to sign on at police stations for that period.
The judge said: “You’ve moved on in your life. You’re an undergraduate at university and you’re performing well.
“It’s plain to me that you are fully remorseful. You were racked with guilt.”