June 2017

Torquay tour guide downloaded child abuse images

A former civil servant has lost his job as a seaside tour guide after being found with thousands of child abuse images on his computer.

Stephen Whelan was traced by police after he accessed material from file sharing sites including around 100 images showing serious child abuse.

He is a former IT worker with the civil service who moved to Devon after losing his job in London and has been working as a tour guide for the past four years.

Police experts found around 2,200 child abuse images on computers and memory sticks but did not analyse a further five million files which were thought to contain adult pornography.

Whelan, aged 54, of East Pafford Road, Torquay, admitted three counts of making indecent images of children and was jailed for eight months, suspended for two years by Judge Geoffrey Mercer, QC, at Exeter Crown Court.

He was ordered to pay £535 costs, do 60 hours of rehabilitation activity, to sign on the sex offenders register, and allow the police to monitor his future internet use under a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

The judge told him:”My impression is that you now realise how serious this was. The reason you are not going to prison today is that you are 54 and have no criminal record at all. You have lost your good character and that is a punishment in itself.”

Mr Gordon Richings, prosecuting, said Whelan was traced as part of an ongoing police investigation targeting online child abuse and his house searched on January 8 last year.

Whelan told them he liked looking at adult images and a total of around 2,200 child images were found, including 100 in the worst category, showing adults having sex with children.