September 2016

Royal Navy officer downloaded child abuse images and had ‘inappropriate relationship with boy’

A Plymouth-based Royal Navy officer has been given a suspended jail sentence for downloading sexual images of children from the internet.

Sub Lieutenant Luke Fisher is facing dismissal from the Devonport-based frigate HMS Monmouth after he admitted having indecent images of boys on two computers and an iPhone.

The offences came to light when the parents of a 12 year old boy grew concerned about an ‘inappropriate friendship’ between their son and Fisher.

Fisher, 26, of Park Road, St Marychurch, Torquay had given one of the laptops to the 12-year-old and although none of the images were accessible, police experts recovered them from the memory after the parents complained to police.

Exeter Crown Court was told some of the photos and movies were in the most serious offending category.

Judge Erik Salomonsen said his career in the Royal Navy was now over.

The offences came to light when the parents of a boy grew concerned about an ‘inappropriate friendship’ between their son and Fisher.

There was no suggestion Fisher had groomed the boy or committed any offences against him.

Fisher said he was deeply ashamed of his offending and wanted help for his addiction and sexual interest in children. He said his offending stemmed from abuse he had suffered at a young age.

Graduate Fisher, aged 26, is currently on shore at HMS Drake in Plymouth but Royal Navy officers sat at the back of Exeter Crown Court and he will now face disciplinary action.

Mr Michael Green, defending, said Fisher was drawn into downloading indecent images after using chatrooms.

He said Fisher is receiving support from the Community and Mental Health team at HMS Drake in Plymouth but is certain to be dismissed from the service as a result of this case.

He said:”It is a great shame when a serving officer in the armed forces comes before a court and all the more troubling when the case involves sexual offences of this kind.

“There are two Warrant Officers in court and it is safe to assume his career will come to an end very shortly. However, you do not get to be a sub Lieutenant in the Navy without having a number of characteristics which will stand him in good stead.”

Mr Green said a psychological report identified childhood abuse as the root of Fisher’s offending and said he is keen to undertake the internet offenders’ course and has already started counselling.

Miss Sally Daulton, prosecuting, said deleted images were recovered from the memory of a Sony laptop which Fisher gave the boy.

A Macbook and iPhone were seized from Fisher while he was serving on HMS Monmouth and in total two movies and 311 images were found on the devices, including some showing very serious child abuse.

Miss Daulton said a small number of images showed boys aged as young as three but the more serious material showed boys aged eight to 14. There were also internet searches including those for teen gay chatrooms.

Judge Salomonsen said: “Yours is an unusual case in relation to cases which come before the court.

“Frequently these offences are committed by older people living a solitary life without recourse to others. You are a serving officer in the Royal Navy, a graduate, you have a family and there is much you have lost as a result of this.

“Your offending is at least in part because you are a victim of abuse yourself in earlier years. Who knows what the position would have been if that had not been the case.”

He added: “It is entirely appropriate you should serve your sentence in the community and receive the support in the community.”

Fisher was given six months in jail, suspended for two years; given supervision, and told to complete an internet sex offender course. He was made subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, put on the Sex Offenders’ Register and told to pay costs of £350.

A probation report had shown Fisher wanted help and did not deny what he had done.

“Two warrant officers are here in court. I imagine it is a safe assumption his career in the navy will come to an end very shortly. Offences of this kind are incompatible with service in the Royal Navy. He knows that and within a short period of time he is likely to be dismissed.”