A man who went to the police to complain about being blackmailed ended up being prosecuted after investigators found a single image of a child on his phone.


Lewis Stottor handed his phone to police because he thought he was the victim of a sextortion attempt by an online contact who claimed to be a 13-year-old girl.


Officers ended up taking no action on his complaint but instead prosecuted him about a single child image which was retrieved from his phone even though it was at the lowest possible level of seriousness.


A Judge at Exeter Crown Court refused an application to impose a Sexual Harm Prevention Order which would have restricted his contact with anyone under 16 and enabled the police to monitor his online activity.


He suffers from agoraphobia and rarely leaves his home, meaning that he spends much of his time online.


Stottor, aged 28, of Moor Road, Staverton, near Totnes, admitted possession of a category C image of a child which had been copied three times in inaccessible areas of his phone’s memory.


He was ordered to do 15 days of rehabilitation activities by Judge Robert Linford, who put him on the sex offenders’ register for five years.


He said: “In the light of the background of this case and the lack of previous convictions, it is my vies that a Sexual Harm Prevention Order is not necessary and would be disproportionate in any event, so I refuse to make such an order.”


Mr Nigel Wraith, prosecuting, said Stottor contacted the police because he feared he may being blackmailed after online contact with someone he thought to be a 13-year-old girl.


He said a single image was found which did not appear to have been sent by the girl. The police found no evidence of blackmail.


Mr William Parkhill, defending, said there was only one image but it was in the lowest category and had been copied automatically to three inaccessible areas of memory.


He said Stottor is agoraphobic and only leaves his home twice a week when his mother drives him to a gym. He spends much of his time online.