Smethwick paedophile who preyed on boys jailed indefinitely

A paedophile, from Smethwick, who preyed on boys as young as three and amassed a collection of more than 17,500 indecent images of children has been jailed indefinitely for public protection.

Wolverhampton Crown Court was told that Paul Gardner used his expertise in repairing computers to befriend the families of some of his victims before filming them on mobile phones.

The registered sex offender, of South Road, Smethwick, West Midlands, pleaded guilty at earlier hearings to a total of 34 charges, including counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and taking indecent pictures of children.

The 31-year-old was initially arrested in May last year after the father of a teenage boy alerted Sussex Police to “inappropriate” emails sent to his son.

Prosecutor Bernard Linnemann told the court that police then raided Gardner’s flat, where they found thousands of images of children downloaded from a Russian website. Mr Linnemann said subsequent inquiries established that Gardner had also used mobile phones to film footage of eight children aged between three and 15.

Some of the victims were taken to woods in Oldbury, West Midlands, where they were incited to remove clothing, while others were molested at their homes or in Gardner’s flat. Mr Linnemann said one of the victims, a 14-year-old boy, was targeted after his mother rejected him and he had tried to commit suicide.

The court heard that Gardner had been given a community rehabilitation order at Coventry Crown Court in January 2004 after admitting nine offences of making indecent images.

Passing sentence, Judge Nicholas Webb ordered the defendant to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and to serve at least four-and-a-half years before he can be considered for parole. The judge said it was clear that Gardner had “wheedled” his way into the lives of his victims by befriending their families, often with an offer to do gardening work or repair a broken computer.

Stressing that Gardner may spend the rest of his life in prison if he is not considered safe for release, the judge added: “Whether or not you are an incorrigible paedophile, it may be too soon finally to say. In my judgment you pose a significant risk of serious harm to young boys and it is in the public interest to lock you up for the protection of the public.”

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