A 66-year-old former Lydney man who enticed a woman into having sex with a dog in a South Wales barn – and invited other men to watch the depraved session – has been jailed for two years.

At Gloucester Crown Court last week prosecutor Alun Williams said Timothy Atherton was arrested after the National Crime Agency received intelligence that indecent images were being uploaded to a specialised social media site linked to him.

Armed with a warrant, police searched his then home in Lydney on January 6 last year and seized digital devices including two mobile phones and a laptop.

They found that one of the devices was being used to upload encrypted messages and indecent images of children and of a ‘vulnerable’ woman having sex with a dog.

“There were 14 videos and 34 still images of the worst Category A, 12 videos and five images of Category B and 15 images of the least serious Category C which had been uploaded between August 22, 2021 and August 31, 2021,” said Mr Williams.

“A forensic examination of the messages revealed that Atherton was wholly engaged in the process with this sort of imagery. He was not a passenger. There is evidence that he distributed indecent images for over a week.

“The most disturbing imaging – the extreme pornography and the messages connected with it – relate to Atherton using a barn at a location in South Wales on February 24, 2021 where he enticed a vulnerable woman to have sex with a dog.

“He wasn’t alone as he had invited like-minded individuals to join him in the building. Atherton took his own photographs of these sex sessions.

“He claimed in interview that he was not interested in the extreme pornography itself as he said he was more interested in seeing the perverse actions of the adults with him. He maintained it was that which gave him sexual gratification.

“He was thinking that he could swap the images on the website. The woman at the centre of these allegations has not made a victim statement.”

Judge Rupert Lowe interjected and said that the couple did not seem to have a healthy relationship and added: “There is something pretty disturbing about their relationship. She is half his age and it appears that she had to call him Daddy while Atherton called her Pig or Piglet. She was told what to do with the dog. She obeyed and did what she was told.”

Mr Williams added: “The forensic examination also revealed that Atherton had been downloading indecent images of children for over 20 years having started in August 2000.  This amounted to a total of 4,817 images in his possession, 767 images and 154 videos at category A; 973 images and 50 videos in category B and 2856 images and 15 videos in category C.”

Steven Young, defending said: “It has taken a long time for this case to get to court. These proceedings have played on his mind for over 20 months, from when he was first arrested.

“He entered a guilty plea at the first opportunity for the extreme pornography charges.

“Atherton states that he had no interest in children himself. This statement is something he repeated to the author of his pre-sentence report.

“He has shown some remorse during the court process for the possession charges. Additionally he never intended that the woman should be brought before the court on sex charges connected with the dog.

“His mitigation is that he is a carer for his son who was involved in a road traffic accident which has left him permanently disabled.

“Atherton suggests that he was depressed at the time of his increased offending. The distribution of the indecent images only occurred over a period of a week or so. Since his arrest he has not reoffended and I believe under these circumstances, the inevitable sentence could be suspended.”

Atherton, now of Parliament Street, Gloucester, admitted that between August 30, 2000 and September 11, 2021 he made indecent photographs of children, namely 921 category A,  1023 category B images, and 2871 in category C.

He also pleaded guilty to possessing an extreme pornographic image of woman having  sex with a dog on January 6, 2022; that between August 22, 2021 and  August 31, 2022 he distributed indecent images of children, namely 48 category A, 17 category B and 15 category C images and that between February 1, 2021 and February 25, 2021 in South Wales he aided, abetted, counselled and procured a woman  to have sex with a dog and was reckless as to her being penetrated by the animal.

Judge Lowe told Atherton: “I have to sentence you for nine sexual offences which when taken together are of a disturbing nature. You started indulging in your sexual fantasy at the turn of this century when you went looking for indecent photographs of children.

“This became a habit of yours for the next 21 years. You told the author of your pre-sentence report you have no sexual interest in children. This is almost certainly untrue.

“By committing these offences you were effectively encouraging children to be raped for your enjoyment and the enjoyment of people like you. These child victims will be tainted for the rest of their lives.

“The reason you were caught with these indecent images and extreme pornography pictures is because you actions attracted the attention of the National Crime Agency which led to the police knocking on your door in January 2022.

The extreme pornography, namely the bestiality imagery, some of which was downloaded, was mostly home made. This is because you had developed an interest in extreme pornography in its widest sense.

“You formed a relationship with a woman who was half your age. You had a dominant relationship with this vulnerable woman, who you forced to have a submissive role. You arranged that she should have sex with the dog and this session was viewed by other like-minded men in South Wales. This was purely for your, and their, sexual gratification.

“I accept that this relationship was probably consensual, but you were the dominant partner. You were the one who was very much in control.

“In August of 2021 you were enthusiastically distributing images of children, including some who were being raped, to at least two other people. You talked to them in the most vibrant of terms to the recipients about these images. “

Atherton was sentenced to two years in prison and a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years. He also ordered Atherton to register as a sex offender for the same period of time.  

The judge ordered confiscation of all Atherton’s digital devices.