A BMW plant worker who downloaded and shared hundreds of indecent images of children over 10 years has been jailed.

Kelvin Merritt, of Chestnut Close, Chesterton, near Bicester, was yesterday handed a 21-month prison sentence at Oxford Crown Court.

The 58-year-old admitted three counts of downloading, and one count of distributing, indecent images of children after his home was raided by police on Tuesday, September 10, last year.

Jane Davies, prosecuting, said officers found a total of 1,840 images on two laptops and one desktop computer, including 83 videos.

She told Recorder Simon Blackford that 392 of them were at levels four and five, showing the most serious abuse, and 92 had been shared over the internet.

Miss Davies said the children in the pictures ranged from babies and infants up to 13-year-olds and were mostly girls.

The barrister added Merritt had told police he had been viewing such material for 10 years and had used Skype to communicate with other paedophiles.

Kate O’Raghallaigh, defending, said her client was hard working, had been married for 24 years and had two children and a grandchild.

She said: “Mr Merritt has spent 37 years as a production worker for BMW.

“He does shift work and often finds himself at a loose end, home alone for long periods of time.

“And it was that pattern of shift working which seems to have played a role in how this offending came to happen.”

Recorder Blackford told Merritt it was people like him who helped to create a market for images of children being abused.

He sentenced him to 21 months in prison, fined him £5,000 and told him to pay £400 costs and a £15 victims’ surcharge. Merritt was also made subject to an indefinite sex offenders’ prevention order.

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