A PAEDOPHILE who incited a girl under 13 years old to engage in a mutual sex act online was told he is "a danger to children" as he was jailed for four years on Friday, November 8.

Dale Thomas, 31, was found to have more than 10,000 indecent images and videos of children when police searched his Ellesmere Port address in 2017.

Chester Crown Court heard one of the indecent images Thomas - now of Castleview House, East Lane, Runcorn - had in his possession was one involving a baby girl aged between three and six months; the description of it leaving Judge Patrick Thompson to say it was one of the most disturbing he had ever heard.

Judge Thompson also questioned why prosecutors had not imposed a more serious charge on Thomas for inciting a girl aged under 13 to engage in sexual activity, when Thomas was instead charged with taking an indecent video lasting five minutes and 49 seconds of a child.

Had Thomas been charged with the more serious offence, he would have potentially received a longer prison sentence.

Judge Thompson said: "Is that justice? My hands are tied; I would like a letter explaining why this clearly flawed decision has been taken without the court's powers.

"There is an enormous difference between the two charges."

Prosecuting, Mike Stephenson said police first became aware after an indecent image had been uploaded from a computer at Thomas's address to the internet.

Officers attended on May 5, 2017 and Thomas was arrested.

On the various computer equipment, they found 10,355 indecent images and videos of children.

Of these, 1,491 images – including 412 videos – were analysed and found to be category A, the most serious.

Another 1,382 images – including 367 videos – were assessed as category B. At least one of these indecent images involved a baby aged between six and 12 months old.

A further 7,441 images, including 472 videos, were assessed as category C.

Thomas was also found to own 28 extreme pornographic images, including video footage totalling 85 minutes, involving adults in sexual activity with animals.

For getting the underage girl to engage in sexual activity – which happened via Snapchat – Thomas had originally told police it was the girl's idea.

However, when it was put to him it was very convenient he had a camera ready at the time to record her, he accepted it was actually his idea.

Thomas had also posted an advert via Instagram inviting children to engage in sexual activity.

Mr Stephenson described the advert as inviting girls "up for trade", with "Girls to see my d***, show me your b***s, DM me. 13+ [or] any younger girls who like older guys".

Thomas had also set up an account on messaging app Kik, where he sent and received messages to underage girls aged 15-17, and would receive images of their breasts and genitalia.

The court heard Thomas had pleaded guilty to all these charges – which took place between September 2011 and May 2017 – and one of possessing two grammes of cannabis.

He had one previous conviction for fare-dodging.

Defence solicitor Richard Thomas said the defendant accepted he was going to be sent to prison.

He had co-operated with the police and had not committed any further offences in the two-and-a-half years it had taken from initially being arrested to being sentenced.

He had committed the offences due to feeling isolated, which he accepted was not an excuse.

Judge Thompson remarked on one of the worst indecent images, involving a baby girl: "I remember going back to the days when legal counsel would have to see these indecent images themselves as part of the case; I have seen many images, but this is in the category of the worst thing I can possibly imagine."

Sentencing Thomas, Judge Thompson said: "It's a very disturbing picture indeed. It's clear you are attracted to children. You have tried to minimise your behaviour by saying the [images] popped up on your computer.

"You are a paedophile and clearly present a danger to children, and it's important you do something about it or the sentences will get longer and longer.

"In relation to the possession of making images, there are a great number of aggravating features; the large number of images, the pain and distress suffered by the children, the six years of the offence, many of the images were moving and the fact there are a large number of victims.

"Particularly disturbing [as well] is filming a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity."

Thomas was jailed for a total of four years and made the subject of an unlimited sexual harm prevention order.

Indefinitely, he must also sign the sex offenders register.