Former police officer avoids jail for having hundreds of child abuse pictures on computer equipment
A retired police officer has avoided prison after he was caught with hundreds of child abuse images on his computer equipment.
Michael Raymond Thompson, 69 – who had been a policeman for 30 years – had indecent images of children including a film more than two hours long.
He claimed he amassed the collection of more than 700 pictures simply because he was bored.
Information from the National Crime Agency led Cleveland Police officers to the former officer’s Stockton home on August 24 last year.
They found a laptop containing 625 indecent still and moving images, including 227 at the most serious level with one movie lasting over two hours.
“The Crown say there’s a large number of victims,” said prosecutor Harry Hadfield.
More films were found on a USB drive and the images were of children aged five to 16, Teesside Crown Court heard today.
Thompson’s internet history revealed he actively searched for “young teens and topless models” and viewed files “indicative of child abuse material”.
At first he claimed he might have inadvertently accessed material, but later confessed saying his “foolish” actions were out of boredom, not sexual motives.
Thompson, of Earls Court, Norton, admitted two counts of making indecent photographs of children and one of possessing seven prohibited images of children – his first conviction.
Robert Mochrie, defending, said: “Mr Thompson at the age of 69 has never troubled the court before.
“Furthermore he’s served the public for 30 years as a serving police officer. That was a long time ago now, somewhere in the region of 18 years ago, maybe more.
“It really is a terrible shame that he has wandered down this particular path.
“His reason for it, as absurd as it may seem, is that of boredom.”
He said the boredom set in about 10 years into Thompson’s retirement.
He added: “It was clearly something which came to his mind one day and became something of an entrenched habit over a lengthy period of time.
“It must be sexual motivation behind viewing those images.
“Although he wasn’t the person responsible for taking those images at the heart of the abuse, he understands that by viewing the images he’s perpetuating that type of behaviour.”
Now Thompson had “lost everything” – his wife, home and nest-egg – because of his crimes.
His wife had left him, he left the marital home and now lived in a small flat.
Thompson had been depressed, described the time since his arrest as “10 months of absolute hell” and had talked of suicidal ideas.
Mr Mochrie said the court case, with its shame and embarrassment, was punishment in itself.
Judge Howard Crowson said the “great loss” of Thompson’s good character would cause him great hardship as people found his offending “abhorrent”.
He said some of the images showed children “being abused in an unforgivable way” and Thompson had a sexual interest in watching them, though he was not the abuser.
He added: “There are a very large number of movies, some of them are very lengthy.
“You’ve taken the trouble of ensuring some of them are stored on a separate hard drive. Some of the victims are extremely young.”
Thompson received a one-year prison sentence suspended for 18 months with 20 days’ rehabilitation activity.
He was given a sexual harm prevention order governing his internet use and contact with children, and will be on the sex offenders’ register, both for 10 years.