October 2018

Army cadet leader had a gun, sent ‘inappropriate messages’ to children, and had indecent images on his laptop

An Army Cadet leader who sent ‘inappropriate messages’ to children and was found to have indecent images of youngsters on a laptop has escaped jail.

Christopher Dempster, 27, was found to have 11 indecent images of children as well as eight of extreme pornography.

He had faced a mandatory five year sentence after a disguised stun gun was also found in his home when police conducted a search, but a judge ruled he had never intended to use it.

Manchester Crown Court heard that Dempster came to the attention of the police after concerns were raised over ‘inappropriate messages’.

The messages were sent to three boys, aged 15 to 16, who were in the Ramsbottom based Cadet Force where he was an adult leader.

At the time he was also training to become a special police officer with GMP, prosecutor Simone Flynn told the court.

Ms Flynn said the messages did not break the law, and he was not charged with any offences in relation to them.

But his home in Oldham was searched and officers found an Apple laptop and a USB stick which contained indecent images of children.

The court heard police found one ‘category B’ image and 10 ‘category C’ images of children, category A being the worst.

Officers also found eight images of extreme pornography.

Evidence of an ‘unsavoury’ Skype chat involving talk about child sexual abuse images and sexual activity with children was also found.

Also recovered was a stun gun disguised as a torch found in a dining room cupboard.

It had ‘police torch’ written on the side of it.

Dempster said he was unaware that the device was illegal and claimed he bought it ‘naively’ about four or five years prior in Turkey.

The prosecution were unable to prove how powerful the stun gun was, or if it was in working order, as police de-activated it.

There was no evidence it had ever been used, the court heard.

Dempster, of Paddock Lane, Failsworth, who had no previous convictions, had previously pleaded guilty to possessing indecent images of children of class B and C, possessing extreme pornography and possessing a disguised firearm.

Judge Martin Rudland told the defendant he would not impose a five year minimum jail term for the firearms offence as there were ‘exceptional’ circumstance.

“I’m satisfied that any custodial sentence for that offence would be wholly disproportionate,” said the judge, pointing out there was no evidence that the defendant had ever used it or intended to use it.

He handed Dempster a six month prison sentence but suspended the sentence for two years.

The judge also ordered him to do 30 days of rehabilitation activity and to attend a program for sex offenders.

He was also placed on the sex offenders’ register for five years while a sexual harm prevention order was also imposed for five years, which is designed to restrict internet use of sex offenders.