September 2008

Cash chief spared jail on child sexual abuse images

A finance director at Bradford Cathedral Centre who plunged down a quarry three days before he was to stand trial on child pornography charges has been spared jail.

Brian Charlton, 61, was found critically injured at the bottom of Chellow Dene Quarry, Bradford, in September, 2006.

He was about to stand trial at Bradford Crown Court charged with 21 offences of possessing more than 300 indecent images of children.

At the court yesterday, Charlton, of Leyside Drive, Allerton, Bradford, pleaded guilty to 13 of the offences.

He was sentenced to 20 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for 18 months and ordered to register as a sex offender for seven years.

Prosecutor Giles Bridge said the remainder of the alleged offences would lie on file.

The Crown accepted Charlton’s case that the illegal images appeared on his computer as he accessed adult pornography.

Mr Bridge said Charlton was arrested in February, 2005, on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children.

He was suspended as finance director of Bradford Cathedral Centre.

Mr Bridge said Charlton, who lived with his wife, had his home computer seized and examined.

One image showed a girl aged ten to 13 bound and gagged, the court heard.

Most of the 322 photographs were in the least serious category which is level one but 23 were level two, 18 level three and five level four.

Mr Bridge said that in April, 2003, Charlton was cautioned by the police as part of the Operation Ore crackdown on child pornography.

He told them he was unaware that disks he brought from work contained illegal material.

On September 1, 2006 – three days before he was due to stand trial – Charlton plunged down the quarry and lay undiscovered for up to 24 hours.

Charlton, who walks with a stick, suffered broken bones, hypothermia and bleeding on the brain. He was treated in the intensive care unit at Bradford Royal Infirmary.