Dramatic plea in child sexual abuse images trial
A man accused of downloading child abuse images dramatically broke down in tears and admitted his guilt on the first day of his trial at Bolton Crown Court.
Gavin Wilkinson had denied 28 counts of downloading and possessing thousands of indecent images of children.
Judge Graeme Smith warned him that a prison sentence is “almost inevitable” because of his late plea and because Wilkinson had allowed his wife to fall under suspicion for a time before evidence came to light which cleared her.
Wilkinson was placed on the sex offenders’ register and Judge Smith stated: “The starting point in this matter is almost certainly going to be a custodial sentence.”
The court heard how the images and movies were found on a computer tower and laptop at 32-year-old Wilkinson’s home in Glazebury Drive, Westhoughton, which he shared with his wife
On the first day of his trial, Louise Brandon, prosecuting, told a jury how, on April 4, 2014, police raided the house and took away a computer tower, hard drive, laptop and iPhone.
Analysis of the machines revealed 402 indecent photographs and 62 movies of children on the tower unit and a further 8,527 photographs and 35 movies on the laptop.
“All of these images had been sourced, collected and downloaded from the internet,” said Miss Brandon. “The content of the images ranged from images of children in a state of undress to children being sexually abused by adults.”
A police expert established that the user of the computer tower had been actively searching for indecent images of children and had stored them in folders on the machine. Use had been made of file-sharing software to find the pornographic material. Only the day before he was arrested, nine indecent movies with file names such as “pedoland” had been put into a folder on the computer.
“Each filename also included the letters PTHC, which the prosecution say stands for pre-teen hard core,” said Miss Brandon, who added that between December 1, 2012 and the date of his arrest, there was a pattern of indecent child images being regularly searched for and downloaded.
On the laptop search terms such as PTHC and 5yo had been used.
Only Wilkinson and his wife lived at the house and efforts were made to try and establish who had been using the computer at the time the images were downloaded.
On the computer tower was a back-up of Wilkinson’s iPhone which showed he had been looking at the internet on the mobile and using a photo sharing website to look at folders of images with titles such as “Lolita 9 yo underwear”.
The jury was told that, on occasions, Wilkinson would access the images on his phone just minutes after texting his wife, friends or Stacey, a woman he was involved in an intimate relationship with.
The phone had also been used to access child abuse images within minutes of a Manchester United website being viewed on it. Wilkinson is a fan of club.
“There was only him and his wife living at that address. It is the prosecution case that the person viewing and downloading was the defendant,” said Miss Brandon.
When arrested Wilkinson admitted owning the devices but denied downloading and viewing child porn.
But Miss Brandon stressed to the jury: “All the evidence in the case points to the fact that it could only be him.”
As the first witness was about to be called to give evidence at the trial Wilkinson collapsed sobbing in the dock and subsequently pleaded guilty to all charges. He was granted bail to allow a pre-sentence report to be prepared and will be sentenced on Friday.