Cambridge University professor spared jail over online child sex offences

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A Cambridge University poetry expert who shared child rape fantasies and abuse images online has avoided jail.

Professor Simon Jarvis, 53, was found with almost 2,000 illegal images on various computers and in online accounts when his city home and college room were raided by the National Crime Agency in September.

Dressed in a smart grey suit the Gorley Putt Professor of Poetry broke down in tears at Cambridge Crown Court on Friday, which was told abuse images, including one of a baby, were discovered on four computers seized.

Other images shows "pubescent and pre-pubescent" girls as young as 10 being sexually abused.

Of the almost 2,000 indecent images found, 45 were in the most serious Category A.

"Yahoo chat logs" containing "extremely graphic" child abuse fantasies and software allowing access to the "Dark Web" were also found on some of the four computers seized, the court heard.

He also posed pictures at the lower category C on a page on the Tumblr microblogging website under a pseudonym, the court heard.

Jarvis pleaded guilty to four charges of making and two of distributing indecent images of children, five charges of possessing prohibited images and one of  possessing extreme pornography, at Friday's hearing.

Sentencing him, Judge David Farrell QC said: "You are an intelligent man, a professor of English literature at the University of Cambridge.

"As such, in my judgment, you must have know that by accessing and viewing indecent images of children you were indirectly encouraging the abuse of children.

"You were looking at these images for your own perverted sexual gratification."

Jarvis was sentenced to 12 months, suspended for two years, with a 10-year sexual harm prevention order and must pay £670 prosecution costs.

But, the judge added, Jarvis had been open with police about "what has been described as having an addiction to porn that progressed and included indecent images of children".

He said Jarvis posed a "low to moderate risk" to children and had taken steps since his arrest to get help, and would receive better treatment and rehabilitation if he was not immediately jailed.

The court heard while the oldest charged related to material from 2011 he admitted to NCA officers to viewing child abuse material online since 2000.

After his arrest he told investigators he had sexual fantasies about young girls, sometimes as young as four.

After the hearing, a university spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that Jarvis has been suspended from his post, pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

"We continue to offer support to anyone who has concerns about the case."