September 2011

Former Sussex Police officer jailed for child porn offences

A police officer who created a “wicked and evil” stash of child porn pictures has been jailed for 27 months.

Philip Savidge, a Sussex Police sergeant, had been honoured for bravery weeks before his arrest.

He collected 52,000 images, including some in the worst category of extreme abuse, and distributed them online to paedophiles.

Savidge, 26, spent six years working for Sussex Police and was an acting sergeant based in East Grinstead when he was arrested in September. He resigned the same day.

He volunteered as a scout leader with 8th Burgess Hill Scouts, coached at St Andrews Cricket Club in Burgess Hill and was involved with police cadets.

Those roles put him contact with children aged between eight and 18, but none of the offences he was charged with involved contact with children.

Weeks before his arrest he had been given a bravery award for confronting a knifeman at a domestic violence incident.

Savidge, of Alexandra Road, Burgess Hill, admitted 42 counts of making and distributing indecent images and possessing extreme pictures at Lewes Crown Court yesterday.

He used the username babypass2004 on a file-sharing website to distribute indecent still and moving images.

Most pictures were of young boys aged between four and 12. There were 35 involving animals.

Savidge compared his collection to keeping sporting images. He said it helped him cope with stress and that he was relieved when he was caught.

Martin Yale, prosecuting, said: “He said that since he became involved in indecent images the situation snowballed and he had collected in his own words ‘a fair amount’, mainly of young boys.

“He said he knew it was a risk that he would get caught and he knew it was wrong.

“He tried to stop but he had not sought help because he felt it was not the sort of thing he could talk about.”

Savidge was caught when the national Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre passed evidence to Sussex Police.

Judge Richard Brown said: “These are, in my view, wicked and evil offences.

“Each picture represents a child being abused. There are a horrendous number of images in this case.

“Although it doesn’t influence this case, you, as a police officer, should have realised the seriousness of what you were doing.”

He slapped Savidge with an indefinite sexual offences prevention order, which includes limits on his use of computers.

Gareth Morgan, defending, said Savidge had been of previous “exemplary character” with testimonials speaking highly of him.

There was also no suggestion that he had engaged in making money out of the images and he has since sought help for his problems.

Mr Morgan said: “The defendant portrays himself as something of a compulsive – once he got one image he had to get another.

“He said he did not derive sexual attraction looking at these images.”

Richard Prokopowicz, the honorary treasurer of St Andrews Cricket Club, said Savidge coached young cricketers and had had a Criminal Records Bureau check. He left when the allegations arose.

He said: “It was a shock.

“You expect to trust a police officer, of all people.”

A spokesman for the Scout Association said Savidge had been suspended after being arrested and later dismissed.

He said: “Scouting relies on the trust between leaders and young people and he has broken this trust. He will not be involved with The Scout Association ever again.”

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “This case demonstrates that we will bring offenders to justice regardless of their occupation or background.

“Savidge was in a position of great trust within the community he served, but that trust was breached by this criminal behaviour.”