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Exposed Carpet seller caught with stash of 116,000 sick images including extreme child pornography

A defence lawyer claimed Roland Sherrard had been subjected to the "corrupting influence of the internet"

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Roland Sherrard is quizzed at his shop by Sunday World’s Steven Moore

Roland Sherrard is quizzed at his shop by Sunday World’s Steven Moore

Roland Sherrard is quizzed at his shop by Sunday World’s Steven Moore

Once-respected furniture salesman Roland Sherrard is today exposed as a pervert who gets off on images of babies and animals being sexually abused.

The 52-year-old is facing jail this week when he's sentenced for having almost 116,000 sick photographs which included extreme child pornography.

But the creepy carpet seller also confessed to sharing the images with other perverts and it's that offence which carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

They include thousands of Category A images, deemed the most serious images to possess, and they include videos and pictures of children as young as one being raped but there are thousands more images deemed Category B and C as well.

During a hearing last week in preparation for his sentencing at Antrim Crown Court, a defence lawyer claimed Sherrard had been subjected to the "corrupting influence of the internet".

And it emerged he had only just told his wife the full extent of what he'd been up to in the last few days despite being caught 18 months ago.

This week Roland Sherrard told us he'd made his bed and he'd have to lie in it.

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Roland Sherrard is quizzed at his shop by Sunday World’s Steven Moore

Roland Sherrard is quizzed at his shop by Sunday World’s Steven Moore

Roland Sherrard is quizzed at his shop by Sunday World’s Steven Moore

 

"I don't want to go to jail but it's out of my control, I'll have to wait and see what the judge says," he told us.

He also had a raft of bestiality files which showed horses and cows being sexually abused and officers discovered file sharing software on his computer.

Cops raided his house on June 26 2018 and seized a number of phones, tablets and laptops.

Investigators discovered 1,036 illegal files found over three devices.

Sherrard runs a furniture business in his home town Limavady and has been in the business for almost 20 years.

We caught up with him on Wednesday at his shop on Main Street where he confessed that he "deeply regretted" his behaviour.

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Sherrard was working away, dealing with customers in person and on the phone seemingly without a care in the world.

He was due to be sentenced last Friday, but his case was put back until this Thursday where he's facing a maximum potential jail term of ten years.

We wanted to confront him before he was sent to prison - something he told us he's very concerned about.

"Of course, I'm worried about going to jail," he politely told us. "But I'll just have to wait and see what pans out.

"I deeply regret what I have done, and I know it was completely wrong."

There has been a number of high-profile cases of men downloading indecent images of children and the courts see hundreds of such cases every year.

Recently we exposed pervert ex-teacher Colin Mark Trory who was convicted in the same court of having extreme pornography and indecent images of children for the second time.

And we also confronted east Belfast pervert Andrew Patton who had over 16,000 indecent images of kids.

We wanted to know if Roland Sherrard could shed some light on why someone like him would turn to such degrading images of children and animals.

When asked how on earth he ended up interested in this, he replied: "Honestly, by accident. It was just an occasion."

Amazingly, he said he hoped to hold onto his well-established furniture business.

"I hope to but I don't know what will happen," he replied.

In total, Sherrard admitted 16 counts of possessing an indecent image of a child, four counts of possessing a prohibited image of a child, six charges of possessing extreme pornographic images and a single count of distributing indecent images of children.

At the hearing last week defence counsel Stephen Mooney said while he acknowledged "this is a grave offence," he submitted "there are more serious cases of its type".

When Judge Richard Greene QC asked whether there were any exceptional circumstances "that would allow me" not to jail Sherrard, Mr Mooney told him: "He is a man without any convictions but for this particular offence and it's highly probable he would have led his life without ever coming to adverse attention but for them."

He said Sherrard had been subjected to the "corrupting influence of the internet at a very late stage in his life" in that the "context of these appalling offences is laid bare" in reports from probation and a psychologist.

"Due to financial, emotional and work-related pressure he was seeking some adult material and was led to this particular outlet," said the barrister.

Mr Mooney revealed that although the defendant's wife was present in court, "she has only really in the last few days been made aware of the particular nature of what this man has done".

"She was aware in broad strokes, but he has now provided her with information of precisely what he has done over the last 72 hours," said the lawyer, adding that Sherard "has had a bit of a breakdown".

Mr Mooney revealed that Sherard was so distraught "he attempted to take his own life in the teeth of this case," submitting that given his age, clear record, genuine remorse and guilty plea, "the court can view all of those in combination for exceptional circumstances and keep him out of prison."

Adjourning passing sentence, Judge Greene said he wanted to consider the reports and guideline case as well as wishing to have more information in relation to whether Sherrard had physically used search terms to hunt for indecent images of "very young children".

steven.moore@sundayworld.com

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