A former gospel band rocker caught with nearly 100,000 sickening images of children being sexually abused previously helped to set up a charity to fight child exploitation.
Sunday Life revealed last week how east Belfast man Jonny Hobson — described by a judge as a Jekyll and Hyde personality — narrowly avoided being sent to jail over his conviction at Downpatrick Crown Court on 36 charges.
Now it has emerged he helped create a charity with his former band Bluetree after they played gig singing worship songs in bar in a the red light district of Pattaya in Thailand.
The band had travelled to Pattaya to lead worship, help clean up the streets and help in orphanages - and were horrified by some of the scenes they witnessed in the city notorious for sex tourism.
Bluetree also had a USA gospel chart hit single with a God of this City, a message of hope to the people of Pattaya.
At Downpatrick Crown Court it emerged that Hobson, of Reaville Park, Dundonald had a girlfriend and a job as a classroom assistant at a special needs school in Co Down which he began when he returned to Northern Ireland after touring the USA, Canada and Europe for three years as a drummer with a successful Christian rock band.
But Hobson — nicknamed J-Kid when drumming — developed a secret life online, posing as a 12-year-old girl and searching the dark web to obtain and swap sexually explicit images and videos of children, some as young as five-years-old.
Bluetree also toured the Far East and it was after playing a gig at the Climax Club in Pattaya in 2009 the band created the charity StandOut International.
The band told a Christian magazine in 2009 that Bluetree “created StandOut International to help end child sex exploitation on a global scale, while loving, educating and releasing those rescued into the fullness of life that God has for them”. Hobson himself said: “Our aim is to raise awareness and channel funds through organisations who are active on the ground making a difference in children’s lives every day.
“As believers, we are all called to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Let’s together stand out and make a difference.”
Sunday Life was unable to contact Hobson’s former fellow band members in Bluetree.
The band originated in Belfast’s Christian Fellowship Church (CFC) in 2004 and played until 2017. Hobson joined some years after it formed and played for only a few years before the line-up changed again.
At Downpatrick Crown Court, Hobson admitted to 30 counts of making indecent images of children, five of having prohibited images of children and one of distributing indecent images of children, all between January 2016 and October 2017.
When cops raided his east Belfast home, they seized nine devices which when examined uncovered a total of 92,463 indecent or prohibited images and video files.
A prosecutor said when cops raided Hobson’s home in October 2017, he immediately told them “I have a problem with it” and said there was “never any thoughts about the school”.
Hobson told police: “I want to co-operate with you — I’m glad you’re here.” Arrested and interviewed he also admitted posing as a 12-year-old girl on the apps in order to swap indecent images.
He told police he looked at indecent images and videos sometimes daily.
Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said Hobson described to a probation officer of “feeling like two people, a Jekyll and Hyde personality; the one happy and balanced...while the other lived through a ‘virtual reality’ where he accessed this material and was aroused by it”.
Hobson appeared emotional when Judge Miller said that “not without some considerable hesitation,” he had been persuaded to impose an enhanced combination order of two years probation and 100 hours of community service including carefully crafted programmes designed to reduce the risk of him re-offending.