August 2016

Soldier escapes jail after being found with sexual images of children and animals

A SOLDIER with an “impeccable” record found himself before the court after his internet provider tipped off the police he was accessing images of child abuse.

Anthony Pearce of Saltash Road came before magistrates in Swindon on Friday to be sentenced to four charges of downloading indecent images of children and animals.

The 56-year-old previously pleaded guilty to making 14 indecent images of children of category A classification, 12 of category B, seven of category C and 25 extreme porn graphic images that depicted sexual acts being performed on dogs and horses. The offences all took place between November 23, 2013 and July 17, 2014.

Crown prosecutor Keith Ballinger told the court that the offences had come to light in January 2014 when Pearce’s internet provider, BT, contacted Wiltshire Police with intelligence that an IP address at the defendant’s home was accessing images of child abuse through a file sharing programme.

“In July of that year officers attended his address and executed a warrant,” said Mr Ballinger. “He confirmed to officers that it was him they needed it speak to and he understood what they were talking about.”

In police interview he told the officers that he would download around 30 to 40 files through a file sharing service overnight. When he went through them if he found anything depicting child abuse he would delete them immediately. He said he had not actively gone looking for images of child abuse but accepted there had been some in there.”

He explained that he found child abuse “disgusting” and got no sexual gratification out of such images.

Defending Pearce, Ben Worthington told the bench that not only did his client have no previous convictions recorded against him, but he was a man of “impeccable” character. “He has been in the military for some 35 years, 22 years in the army and the last 13 in the Territorial Army,” said Mr Worthington. “During the course of his time in the military he has done two tours of Northern Ireland, a tour of Kosovo, Cyprus, Germany – he has been placed all over the world.

“He is now a sergeant instructor and helps with the day to day running of his squadron in the TA.

“He admits having some difficulty with emotional management, depression, feelings of isolation and survivor’s guilt.”

He explained that police had found the images in the cache folder on Pearce’s computer, and not deliberately saved in a separate folder. Since then, however, he has sought treatment at a sexual harm prevention clinic.

Having retired to consider the sentence they would impose, chairman of the bench Simon Wolfensohn told Pearce that the decision they had reached was a very borderline verdict. After considering his previous good character, the supportive character references they had received and the fact he had already sought out treatment he imposed a six month prison sentence, which was suspended for 18 months. He also made him subject to a seven year sexual harm prevention order during which he will also be under a period of notification.

Pearce was also ordered to pay a fine of £725, Crown Prosecution Service costs of £85 and a £115 victim surcharge.