A WORKINGTON man’s unhealthy interest in child abuse images was uncovered after his online activity was identified by police officers in London.

The tip-off from the Metropolitan Police led officers to the home of 45-year-old Philip Martin-White, who had communicated online with other people about child abuse and shared indecent images.

It later emerged that he was himself a victim of childhood sexual abuse - at the hands of a perverted Workington priest.

The police investigation led to the defendant’s home in Workington, where officers seized Martin-White's iPhone, which contained incriminating evidence of his online activities.

He later admitted the following charges:

  • Distributing an indecent child image classified as Category A (the most serious kind) on November 4, 2021.
  • Downloading 2,605 Category A child abuse images on or before March 17, 2022, at Workington.
  • Downloading 2,143 Category B indecent child images during the same time period.
  • Downloading 283 Category C indecent child images during the same time period.
  • And possessing an extreme pornographic image, depicting sexual activity between a person and a dog.

Prosecutor Brendan Burke said some of the Category A images depicted the “sadistic sexual abuse” of young boys and babies. One six-month old baby is seen crying in clear distress as the adult involved is abusing him.

The defendant had no previous convictions.

Marion Weir, defending, described the case as “complex and difficult.” She acknowledged that some of the indecent images showed the distress suffered by young victims.

Yet “high quality” character references spoke of the defendant as a man of previous and “positive” good character, who had done charity work and who was highly regarded.

“So, what changed?” asked Miss Weir.

The answer, said the barrister, was that in February of 2020 another man was given a significant sentence for sexually abusing children, including the defendant when he was a child.

That had trigged complex emotions within Martin-White, said the barrister. While recognising his abuser’s guilt, Martin-White felt guilty for sending him to prison on his word.

While not every victim of abuse goes on to commit offences, said Miss Weir, there was a link and consequences flowed from the defendant’s experiences.

The barrister added: “He’s had counselling and sought to unpick the complex web of offending and hurt which has plagued his life and the process of rehabilitation has begun."

Judge Michael Fanning noted the “significant trauma” that the defendant had suffered in his past, telling Martin-White : “You were a vulnerable child yourself and you know what this is about and the impact it has.

“They are victims, not just pictures.”

The judge imposed a jail term of one year and eleven months, suspended for two years. It includes 30 rehabilitation activity days, with a six-month mental health treatment requirement.

The defendant, of Patterson Hill Close, Workington, will be on the Sex Offender Register for a decade and also subject to a sexual harm prevention order, which will control his use of the internet.

The judge added that he considered there was a prospect of rehabilitation, noting that the defendant, when told what sentence he would probably face, reacted by saying this was the help he had been “crying out for”.

* Philip Martin-White was among the victims of Father Gregory Carroll, who was allowed to continue being a priest at Workington's St Michael’s RC Church in 1987 despite confessing to previous child abuse to the then abbot of York's Ampleforth Abbey.

Martin-White has given the News & Star written permission to report that he was himself the victim of sexual abuse during his childhood.

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The Stop It Now charity is devoted to preventing child abuse and works with any person who has concerns, either about themselves or others. The  charity's confidential helpline number is 0808 1000 900.