A convicted sex offender claimed his ‘dream boy’ was just 13 or 14, a court heard.

Nicholas Finnemore, 57, also boasted to another paedophile in answer to the question ‘who’s been your youngest boy?’: “13 so far.”

Judge Maria Lamb told the Witney man she was ‘just’ able to suspend his 18 month prison sentence for two years, after hearing that the images and chats that brought him before Oxford Crown Court this week pre-dated a 12 month jail sentence imposed in 2017.

Sentencing him on Thursday afternoon, Judge Lamb said: “I have to say, when I read the pre-sentence report I note a high degree of self-pity which is entirely misplaced in my view given you have brought your predicament upon yourself by your offending.”

She also told him she partly disregarded the three year wait in the case reaching court, at least part of which was due to delays in electronic devices being analysed by police forensics experts.

“One might be justified in saying that if people such as you were not tempted to commit these sorts of offences there would be a lot less work for the specialist investigation unit to do,” the judge said.

The court heard that Finnemore had originally been arrested in spring 2017 by Worcestershire police. He was jailed for 12 months in November that year for sick chats with what he thought was a child but turned out to be a paedophile hunter group.

In spring 2018, following his release on licence, a laptop and iPhone he’d bought in 2017 were seized by officers from Oxford police’s public protection unit.

It was a year before they were analysed by digital specialists. In total, he had five category A indecent images of children, 10 in category B and 37 category C images.

The devices contained explicit chats with a ‘child’, named in court as ‘Mark’, although it was not clear whether the profile belonged to a real child. There were also messages exchanged between Finnemore and another with similar interests.

Gareth James, mitigating, suggested at least some of the images may have been automatically downloaded from online ‘cloud’ storage when he bought the computer and phone and updated his settings.

In the four years since his original arrest he had kept out of trouble and was keen to get on with his life. He was in work and had a mortgage.

Finnemore, of Centenary Way, Witney, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to possession of indecent images and attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity.

He was ordered to complete the sex offenders’ rehabilitation programme and 25 rehabilitation days. He must abide by a 10 year sexual harm prevention order, sign on as a sex offender for 10 years and pay £1,000 in costs.

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