July 2017

Former probation officer who was awarded MBE caught red-handed watching child abuse film in dawn raid

A former senior probation officer who was caught red-handed watching a child abuse film when police raided his house has avoided jail.

Michael Nathan Cohen was still in his dressing gown when officers knocked on his Kidwelly front door on the morning of June 27.

Swansea Crown Court heard he asked the officers to remain downstairs in the house while he went upstairs to change but they refused and, when they accompanied him to the first floor, they found a graphic film featuring young teenage boys playing on his Mac computer.

Cohen, 71, of Monksford, Kidwelly – who was appointed MBE in 1998 for his work as a senior probation officer – had previously pleaded guilty to three counts of possessing indecent images of children and to three counts of making indecent images of children when he appeared in court for sentencing.

Dean Pulling, prosecuting, said Dyfed-Powys Police officers from the force’s online investigation unit and the joint investigation team from Llanelli executed a warrant at Cohen’s house after receiving information that indecent images of children were being downloaded at the address.

Cohen “initially tried to protest” about the officers searching the house but then told them about the images, saying to police: “My life is over”.

Police recovered a total of 92 images and videos from Cohen’s computer and a hard-drive – 92 of them were Category A, the most extreme kind, 11 were Category B, and 55 were Category C. Most of the images involved young boys, the youngest aged around nine.

The court heard that in his police interview he said he had been accessing such material for the last three years – sometimes downloading as many as 15 films a day from websites found in online forums where he also took part in “sexually explicit conversations”.

Judge Keith Thomas told Cohen the viewing of indecent images perpetuated the abuse of children by others.

He said: “Making and possessing indecent images are serious because they are real children being abused in real situations – they are not simply images.”

Cohen was sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for 18 months and ordered to complete a rehabilitation course.

He was also made the subject of a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order to limit his access to the internet and will be on the sex offenders’ register for the same length of time.

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