May 2017

Boss of children’s charity found with abuse images

The head of a charity has been placed on the sex offenders register after claiming that images of child abuse found on his computer had been put there by hackers.

William Wood, 61, told a court that his laptop had been targeted by criminals who downloaded the indecent images of children as young as four to the device before deleting them.

The retired IT expert said that he had no knowledge of the images, some at the most serious end of the scale, when police raided his home in December 2015.

Wood ran an African child education charity, the Dignity Project

Wood was deemed to be lying when a jury unanimously found him guilty of two charges of possessing and downloading indecent of images of children following a two-day trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

The court heard traces of 138 images and one film were found on three devices at the Edinburgh home Wood shares with wife

Police Scotland forensic expert DC Alan McConnell told the court he found internet search terms including “African pre-teens”, “magic nymphettes” and “PTHC” [Pre-teen hardcore] on Wood’s computer.

DC McConnell said the files had been deleted but traces of the search terms and file names were still embedded and uncovered using computer software.

He added the disturbing film had been downloaded to Wood’s computer in November 2015 and had been viewed twice before being deleted.

The computer expert was asked if it was possible the owner did not know the images had been downloaded. He said they were “not accidental” in his opinion.

Mrs Wood said she and her husband had set up the Dignity Project charity in 1996 and spent 10 years in Africa teaching and helping under-privileged children

She denied any knowledge of the images and added the charity had closed down three years ago due to “ill-health and funding difficulties”.

Wood told the jury the charity had been the victim of computer hacking in June 2014 when an abusive comment about JK Rowling appeared on its Twitter feed.

Wood also told the court his online bank account had been compromised and said “someone must have put the [images] search terms in because I certainly didn’t”.

He said: “I’ve never seen, never searched for and never downloaded indecent images of children. This is very serious – we are talking about my life, my career, my 25-year marriage. I’m innocent so I do not have any off pat answers.

“I agree they were there but I have no idea how they got there. Someone hacked our computer previously and this other stuff [indecent images] someone has done it maliciously to discredit us.”

Wood claimed the images had been downloaded without his knowledge and his own computer security software had then deleted the pictures without him viewing them.

But the jury found him guilty of possessing indecent images of children at his home in Corstorphine on December 7, 2015.

He was also found to have downloaded the images between August 4 and December 7, 2015.

Sheriff Fiona Tait placed Wood on the sex offenders register for a period still to be determined and deferred full sentence to next month.