A HIGH academic achiever was caught with child sex abuse images after seeking friendship online having become a “very isolated young man”.‬

‪Christopher David Jonathan Brown’s wrongdoing came to light amid a National Crime Agency probe into users of a messaging platform suspected of involvement with the illicit material‬.

Officers visited Brown’s home - a farm near Brampton - in June, 2019, seizing 29 items capable of storing multi-media, including mobile phones, computers, USB and hard drives.

It emerged the messenger platform had been accessed from his address and also from St Andrew’s University, where he was studying. A total of 170 indecent images were found on the devices ­— 25 in category A, the highest ­— and featured children aged just three.

Prosecutor Alaric Walmsley said Brown, now 23, ‬confessed to accessing the platform using a fake profile.

“He further admitted to being a member of chat groups where indecent material relating to children was discussed and exchanged,” said Mr Walmsley.

Brown also used different usernames to chat with third parties who claimed to be aged under 18, the court was told. A web search history was “indicative of someone actively looking for indecent images of children.

He admitted making indecent photographs of children, and possessing extreme pornography involving adult and animal sexual activity.

Brown was sentenced at Carlisle Crown Court, where the judge, Recorder Katherine Pierpoint, heard he was moved up two year groups while effectively completing his primary school education by the age of eight.

He was from a good family, “loved and supported”. But despite being a “high academic achiever”, he “ended up with a lack of emotional maturity”, the judge observed, and became a “very isolated young man”.

Robin Patton, defending, said: “He felt the only vicarious childhood he could have was by talking to people on the internet, and that’s how (the offending) started.”

Told that Brown had since undergone counselling, and concluding there was a prospect of rehabilitation.

Recorder PierpointThe judge suspended a year’s jail term for two years. Brown must complete a treatment course and unpaid work, sign the sex offenders’ register and comply with strict prevention order terms for 10 years.

“The untold suffering and harm that is caused by this type of offence to innocent children is clear,” said the judge. “People like you, who search for and access this type of material online, play their role in that suffering.”

Brown was also told: “You now, as a result of that behaviour, have lost your good character and you realise yourself that this will have lasting effects for the rest of your life.”