Blyth father who met with 14-year-old had sickening collection of child abuse images

A married dad who paid an underage girl to meet him and had a sickening collection of child abuse images on his computer has kept his freedom.

By Court Reporter
Tuesday, 8th March 2022, 3:53 pm
Austin Rickerby.

Austin Rickerby had a "secret aspect to his life" which involved him going on dating sites to meet up with women for sexual purposes.

Newcastle Crown Court heard in June 2018 he started chatting to a teenager over the website Seeking Arrangement, where called himself "Mystic Gentleman".

Prosecutors accept that while he met the 14-year-old three times, there was no sexual contact and she had lied about her true age, claiming to be 18 and later 16.

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During a series of Whatsapp conversations, after being told she was only 14, Rickerby talked about "foot fetish" and "foot worship" and requested that she sent him a foot picture.

Prosecutor Nick Adlington said on one occasion the teen was paid for attending a meeting with Rickerby.

The court heard when police searched Rickerby's computer devices they found 186 child abuse images, involving pictures and movies, across all three categories of seriousness.

The children featured in the images were aged between six and 17.

He had a collection of 15 extreme pornography pictures and movies, featuring adults engaged in sex acts with animals, and 23 prohibited images of children, which were in cartoon form.

Rickerby, 43, of John Street, Blyth, Northumberland, admitted three charges of making indecent images of children, one of possessing extreme pornography, one of possessing prohibited images of children and having sexual communication with a child.

Mr Recorder Carl Gumsley sentenced Rickerby to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with rehabilitation requirements, a three month curfew and £500 costs.

Rickerby must sign the sex offenders register for ten years and abide by the terms of a sexual harm prevention order for five years.

The judge told him: "You have got a good job, a family, a child, there are no issues with money or substances.

"It would be difficult for many people to understand what on earth led you to get involved in these matters."

The judge said the images Rickerby had collected were "distressing" and the children featured in them had to go through the "most appalling, terrible experiences".

Rickerby was told the jail term could be suspended to him an opportunity to "address those thoughts that you have".

Andrew Walker, defending, said Rickerby was on a website for adults and added: "He was an adult seeking to meet with an adult, not a child."

Mr Walker said Rickerby, who has never been in trouble before, has employment and has co-operated with the authorities.

He added: "It is unlikely he is ever going to trouble a criminal court again in his life."