Published: 00:01, 09 February 2015
A convicted sex offender has been sent back to jail after he was caught buying a DVD of naked boys on the internet.
Disgraced youth worker Stephen Holderness, previously from New Romney, was banned from accessing child images on the web but was found with more than 1,000 on his computer.
Holderness moved to Devon after being released from a jail sentence for abusing boys, aged nine and 12, in the 2000s. One assault had been at his home in New Romney.
He is a registered sex offender whose use of the internet is restricted by an order made by the judge when he was jailed for four years and classified as a dangerous offender at Maidstone Crown Court.
He was caught after he bought a DVD containing illegal and indecent images of children and detectives traced the order to his home in Devon.
“Your offending behaviour is so serious in the light of your previous convictions that only an immediate sentence will suffice" - Judge Phillip Wassall
Holderness, aged 56, of Highfield Crescent, Paignton, and formerly of Tookey Road, New Romney, admitted eight offences of possessing indecent images and was jailed for two years by Judge Phillip Wassall at Exeter Crown Court.
The judge told him:”You were convicted of a contact offence 10 years or so ago against male children, at which time similar images were found on your computer.
“Your offending behaviour is so serious in the light of your previous convictions that only an immediate sentence will suffice.
“In effect, in that case the judge indicated you posed a risk of causing serious harm and here you are, 10 years on, committing similar sorts of offences.”
The judge also made a Sexual Offences Prevention Order which restricts Holderness’ contact with children in the future and allows the police to monitor his internet use.
Mr Richard Crabb, prosecuting, said Holderness came the attention of the police after ordering a DVD containing 300 images of children.
An examination of his computer showed he had 2,050 images of children including 53 at the highest category, showing them being sexually abused by adults.
Mr Kevin Hopper, defending, said Holderness is the sole carer for his wife, who has suffered serious illness in the recent past and who would suffer if he were sent straight to jail.
Stephen Holderness molested children when he was a youth worker on Romney Marsh.
Holderness, while living in New Romney, ran a youth group at Southlands in the town’s Station Road and in 2002 was in charge of young boys on a trip abroad.
“It is my belief that he preyed on single parent families or children who were slightly boisterous and needed taming” - Det Sgt Andrea Bishop
One night he took two of them naked to a sauna and indecently assaulted one of them after making inappropriate conversation with him.
On another occasion, at his own home, Holderness touched a 12-year-old boy while he was in bed.
When police searched his house they seized his computer and found 489 thumbnail images of child pornography on his hard drive.
Holderness was jailed for four years at Maidstone Crown Court on April 23, 2004 for sexually abusing boys in his care and downloading child pornography.
He was convicted of two indecent assault charges and one of inciting gross indecency and cleared of two other indecent assault charges.
But the sentence was cut to two-and-half years at London’s Appeal Court on November 30 after lawyers argued that offenders in similar cases received lesser sentences.
After that the mother of one victim said this reduction was “just another kick in the teeth”.
The original sentencing had seen the end of a two-year police investigation.
Holderness had been youth worker for 25 years and had no previous convictions. He had been employed as a senior youth worker for Kent County Council as well as being youth centre leader at Southlands.
But Det Sgt Andrea Bishop, who led the investigation, said in April 2004 that he had spent time building up trust in the community and becoming close with the families of the children he went on to molest.
She said that he had groomed his victims and engineered himself to a position of trust as a senior youth worker.
DS Bishop had said: “It is my belief that he preyed on single parent families or children who were slightly boisterous and needed taming.”
The police became involved after a colleague raised concerns about Holderness.
Judge Michael Neligan at Maidstone told Holderness that he would remain on licence of six years after his sentence and was banned from ever working with children again.
An order was also made, at the request of DS Bishop, that Holderness be banned from using a computer, which could access the internet, until further notice.
It was the first time this had been granted in Kent.
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