September 2018

Indecent images on Durham University IT assistant’s work station

PROBLEM: University IT worker Matthew Hepburn stored indecent images on both home and work computers

A UNIVERSITY IT assistant was found to have downloaded indecent images of children at work, after being charged over similar material on his home computer equipment, a court heard.

Police initially seized several devices after executing a search warrant at Matthew James Hepburn’s home, in Ushaw Moor, last September.

Paul Cleasby, prosecuting, said not only was Hepburn questioned, but, “unfortunately” suspicion, at first, also fell on his wife.

While the contents of the computers were awaiting analysis his wife discovered an indecent image on a mobile phone her husband recently acquired and she brought it to police attention.

Hepburn was interviewed and made full admissions, but, subsequently, while on bail, Durham University discovered indecent images on his work station, to which only Hepburn had access.

Mr Cleasby said it was also brought to police attention and full analysis was made of equipment submitted by the university.

Hepburn, 36, of Oakridge Road, Ushaw Moor, was then remanded in custody and, at a court hearing in June admitted three counts of making indecent images of children and one of possessing extreme pornography, relating to the contents of his home and mobile devices.

Appearing via video link from the city’s nearby prison, he admitted three new counts of making indecent images of children, over the contents of his work station.

Mr Cleasby said in total there were several hundred offending images and videos, featuring girls aged from five to 16, mostly 12 to 14.

Julian White, mitigating, said Hepburn is of previous good character, and, following assessment, is not considered to pose, “a significant risk” of future offending.

Mr White said Hepburn is said to have displayed “distorted, disinhibited” thinking over a number of years.

“He has said, quite clearly, that he has had a proclivity with these type of images. He has a problem and sought help after his arrest.”

While he lost his job, he is said to retain family support.

Recorder Ian Atherton, passing a one-year prison sentence, made Hepburn subject of notification as a sex offender, and subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, both for ten years.