Decorator was 'trying to catch paedophiles' by sharing child rape videos

Ipswich Crown Court

Matthew Calleja appeared at Ipswich Crown Court on Wednesday - Credit: Archant

A paedophile who shared child rape videos online has avoided going straight to jail.

Matthew Calleja tried to avoid detection by throwing his phone onto a rooftop when arrested.

The 37-year-old painter and decorator claimed he was trying to "catch paedophiles" when the device was retrieved and found to contain evidence.

Calleja was handed a suspended prison sentence at Ipswich Court on Wednesday, having earlier admitted two counts of distributing indecent images of children, three counts of making indecent images and one count of possessing extreme pornography.

Prosecutor Charles Falk said Calleja, of Iceni Way, Colchester, attempted to discard his iPhone by throwing it on a roof when apprehended on November 12 last year.

Under the username 'Tony Hart', Calleja set up a Kik Messenger account, which was active for five months and used to distribute three of the most serious 'category A' indecent movies to three other users on November 11, as well as two category B movies to six different users on the day of his arrest.

Further analysis of Calleja's phone uncovered a further two category A images, six category A movies, 16 category B images, nine category B movies, 27 category C images and five videos of extreme pornography. 

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Mr Falk said the most serious videos showed the rape of children as young as two.

"In police interview, he said he was doing it to catch paedophiles," added Mr Falk, who said evidence instead showed Calleja's "active involvement" in a network that facilitated the sharing of movies.

Sasha Bailey, mitigating, said that despite indications of Calleja still trying to "minimise" his offending, he realised the need for rehabilitation and had begun to engage with child protection charity, the Lucy Faithfull Foundation. 

"He demonstrates an acceptance that there needs to be a change," she told the court.

Recorder Richard Atchley told Calleja: "The matters for which you fall to be sentenced are serious and highly unpleasant. 

"They impact on children everywhere who are subjected to the abuse you viewed and distributed."

He said jailing Calleja might prevent offending in the short term, but may not address his fundamental problem.

He handed Calleja an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 200 hours of unpaid work and 40 days of rehabilitation activity requirement.

He will also be subject to a sexual harm prevention order and must sign the sex offenders' register for 10 years.

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