July 2018

Former soldier had indecent images of children

A former soldier had indecent images of children on his laptop.

Michael Smith appeared at Worcester Crown Courtyesterday after his home in Tenbury Wells was raided by police as part of Operation Safenet.

The 49-year-old, now of Lickhill Caravan Park, Stourport, admitted three counts of making indecent images of children. A warrant was executed on December 29, 2016.

Officers seized a laptop on which were found 21 indecent images of children.

Of the images 12 were movies at category A, the most serious level, showing penetrative sexual activity involving children, all pre-pubescent girls estimated to be aged eight and over.

There were eight at category B and one at category C.

Edward Hetherington, prosecuting, said the laptop was set up with peer-to-peer software which allows the sharing of files. Smith had paid a subscription to disguise the IP address, watching the movies and deleting them before the files were fully downloaded.

The IT worker had also used CCleaner programme to ‘deep clean’ his computer, the prosecutor arguing that Smith had attempted to ‘disguise or obscure evidence’, an aggravating feature. Smith initially denied the offences but changed his pleas to guilty four weeks before a trial.

Judge Robert Juckes QC said those who carried out abuse shown in the images could expect to serve sentences of between 10 and 15 years.

He said: “This is a form of abuse of children which causes particular feelings of disgust amongst the public and is particularly focused upon by the police in their attempts to stamp it out.”

The judge sentenced him to 11 months in prison, suspended for two years. He also sentenced him to a community order which will include 30 rehabilitation activity days, 150 hours of unpaid work. Smith was made subject to a five year sexual harm prevention order, must pay £900 court costs and a £140 court charge.

He must sign the sex offender register for 10 years.