Toddler rape vid paedophile says guilt “eating him alive” – Liverpool Echo
A paedophile caught with videos of toddlers being raped was spared jail after he said his guilt was “eating him alive”.
Michael Hollywood, 49, downloaded horrifying files, which showed “very young” children in nappies “distraught and crying”.
But he walked free from court after a judge accepted his “extreme remorse” and said his response since was “commendable”.
Police acting on intelligence raided Hollywood’s home, in Heathgate Avenue, Speke, and seized his phone on February 11 last year.
Liverpool Crown Court heard when cautioned, he replied: “I can’t tell you why I’ve done what I’ve done, one thing leads to another.”
Police found 72 Category A – the most serious category showing child rape – plus 27 Category B and 16 Category C indecent images of children on the device.
Zahra Baqri, prosecuting, said the 115 files were downloaded between February 7 and February 10 and included 104 videos.
Ms Baqri said 33 of the images came from Kik Messenger and the remaining 82 from cloud storage platform Mega.
Hollywood, formerly of Wallasey, was voluntarily interviewed on August 12, when he accepted the phone was his.
Ms Baqri said: “He told the police he had started talking with an adult woman on a dating app, that the conversation was sexual in nature, with him referring to the lady as ‘dirty’, and things seemed to move on from that.”
Hollywood said they started chatting on Kik Messenger, when he found himself in a group of other people, and someone posted a link to Mega.
He accepted he clicked the link and downloaded a file containing indecent images and that he didn’t attempt to delete them.
Ms Baqri said police put to him the images were downloaded over four days, so it wasn’t clicking a link just once, but he couldn’t provide an explanation.
Hollywood, of no previous convictions, admitted three counts of downloading and one of possessing indecent images of children.
Ms Baqri said: “The age and vulnerability of some of the children should be given significant weight.”
She said: “Some videos contain very young children.
“The report gives one example of a very young child being distressed.
“The report doesn’t detail how many files in total show the child victims to be distraught and crying.”
Recorder Mark Ainsworth said Hollywood was said in a pre-sentence report to express “extreme remorse”.
The judge said: “At one point he says it’s eating him alive what happened.”
Andrew McInnes, defending, said it was a “full credit case” because his client pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.
He said: “It’s very clear that the remorse is genuine. It’s clear the whole process has had an enormous effect upon him both physically and mentally.
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“It’s clear there’s been a significant background. Having left the Army he was assaulted by an ex-partner, who received a prison sentence.”
The ECHO reported on that case, when then 44-year-old Hollywood’s partner, 20, was jailed for 12 months in 2016.
Mr McInnes said Hollywood “was found homeless in a park on the Wirral” but was now living in accommodation provided by Launchpad, a charity for military veterans.
He said: “He believes he was disinhibited by his use of alcohol and cannabis. He was in contact with someone on the internet and these offences have taken place.”
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Mr McInnes said in the report that Hollywood said he didn’t believe he was interested in the material, but he was “willing to explore why he got himself in the position” in a “dark place” and had contacted child sex abuse prevention charity The Lucy Faithfull Foundation.
He said Hollywood had also “taken steps” by getting a phone without internet access.
Recorder Ainsworth said Hollywood was “a man of good character with no previous convictions”.
He said: “The criminal justice system was something that was alien to you, but here you are, finding yourself in the dock of the crown court, being sentenced for very serious matters.”
Recorder Ainsworth said he accepted what Hollywood told police in his interview.
He said: “You found yourself in contact with a particular group of people and your involvement with them was not because of a sexual interest in children, but through contact with them you found yourself having access to, if I can put it that way, images of child porn.
“I will use Mr McInnes’ phrase, for about four days you were in a very dark place, as you were accessing these images.”
The judge said: “You must understand behind each of one of those images is a child, in some cases a very young child being sexually abused, in some cases visibly distressed because of what happened to them.
“This may all seem very remote when you’re looking at it on a phone or some sort of device, but behind each of those images there is a victim, a child, being sexually abused.”
However, Recorder Ainsworth said: “Your response, really from the very moment police spoke to you, has been commendable.”
He said Hollywood immediately admitted everything, pleaded guilty and was “candid” with the Probation Service, demonstrating remorse.
The judge said: “You actually used the words you were disgusted with yourself and it was eating you alive, which is a very emotive way of describing how you feel.”
Recorder Ainsworth handed him 10 months in jail, suspended for two years, with a 60-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement, including a sex offender programme.
He told Hollywood to sign on the Sex Offenders Register and comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years.