Sheffield woman found with over 1,000 indecent images of children hauled before the court

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A Sheffield woman has been hauled before the city’s Crown Court after she admitted to possessing over 1,100 indecent images of children, some of which involved kids as young as five.

South Yorkshire Police (SYP) raided the home of Toni Prince, 55, after receiving intelligence which suggested she had been downloading indecent images of children.

Officers seized two laptops and a mobile phone from the home of Prince, a transgender woman whose legal forename is Anthony.

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Prosecutor, Carl Fitch, told Sheffield Crown Court that Prince, of Infirmary Road, Upperthorpe was interviewed by police shortly after the raid and made ‘full and frank admissions’.

Prince's hearing was heard at Sheffield Crown Court today (Monday, July 15)Prince's hearing was heard at Sheffield Crown Court today (Monday, July 15)
Prince's hearing was heard at Sheffield Crown Court today (Monday, July 15)

“She said she had downloaded indecent images of children. She told police she had been the victim of a catalogue of abuse when she was a young child living in Leicester,” said Mr Fitch.

Mr Fitch told the court that despite Prince’s ‘early’ and continued co-operation with police following the raid in June 2016, the force did not complete the analysis of her electronic devices until August 2018.

Addressing Judge Peter Kelson QC, Mr Fitch said: “As Your Honour will know, indecent image cases take a long time to process.”

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Analysis revealed Prince had downloaded a total of 1,191 indecent images of children, whose ages ranged between five and 13-years-old.

In total, Prince downloaded 108 Category A images – the most serious legal category, defined as content which shows children being raped, as well as 90 Category B images and 993 Category C images.

She also downloaded 53 images of ‘extreme pornography’ and 337 prohibited images of children, which the Crown Prosecution Service define as ‘non-photographic’ images.

This includes ‘cartoons, manga and drawings’.

Prince pleaded guilty to charges including making indecent images of children; possession of prohibited images of children and possession of extreme pornographic images at an earlier hearing.

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Under the law, 'making' an indecent image can refer to the 'opening, accessing, downloading and storing of online content'.

Ian Goldsack, defending, referred Judge Kelson to a series of letters that had been submitted to the court on Prince’s behalf from a number of different specialists, whose contact with Prince ‘both pre and post-date the indictment period’ and make reference to the abuse she suffered as a child.

He added: “If there is a virtue to the gap in time, it’s probably that she has been able to demonstrate her determination to do something about what led to her offending in the first place.

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“She describes it as almost impulsive and obsessive behaviour that would manifest at times when her mental health was at the fore and she was struggling.”

Judge Kelson said he regarded the three-year wait Prince had endured for her case to come to court as ‘torture’.

After requesting legal guidance from Mr Goldsack on whether a defendant whose case has taken years to come to court should have their custodial sentence ‘minimised or suspended,’ Judge Kelson told the court he would adjourn the rest of the sentencing hearing until Friday, July 19.

He said: “The difficulty I have is this case is well past the custody threshold and suspect that had it come to court within six months, the defence would have come into difficulty in suggesting the custodial sentence should be suspended.”

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Judge Kelson told Mr Fitch he would like to receive a letter from SYP’s chief constable, Stephen Watson, by Friday to explain why it had taken over two years for the force to analyse Prince’s devices – even after she admitted to her crimes in police interview.

As he released Prince on bail until Friday’s hearing, Judge Kelson told her: “Ms Prince, you have been subject to shocking delays, and I’m now creating a further four-day delay before sentencing you, but I need more help. Your offences are very serious, you know that...if I had sentenced you today, I would have sent you to prison...I’m not threatening you, and I’m not saying what your sentence will be on Friday.

“I know this is four more difficult days for you, but I hope you understand why I’m doing this.”