July 2010

Police get power to search porter’s home whenever they choose after child porn find

A HOTEL porter who used his work computer to download “vile” child porn has walked from court a free man.

But police have been given the power to search Paul Richards’ home whenever they choose — even without suspecting he has been re-offending.

Plymouth Crown Court was told yesterday how analysts found 150,000 images on two computers seized after the 39-year-old’s arrest.

He had been caught by shocked colleagues printing photos at the Moorland Links Hotel in Yelverton.

Although the vast majority of the pictures showed adults, said prosecutor David Gittins, more than 2,000 involved children.

Richards, from Mutley, admitted 12 counts of making indecent images of children over a period of up to a year.

A not guilty plea was accepted to a further charge of making one image ranked at Level 5 — the most serious category — after the Crown Prosecution Service accepted Richards did not have the equipment to access it.

The court was told how analysts scouring his home and work computers found 2,092 photos at Level 1, 16 at Level 2, eight at Level 3 and four at Level 4.

Barrister Nick Lewin said Richards, who had no previous convictions and had lost his hotel porter job, had been “open and honest” ever since his arrest.

He had also suffered educational difficulties since childhood, added Mr Lewin.

Judge Paul Darlow told Richards that he had been fuelling the child porn industry — even if there was no direct contact with a child.

He said: “You have come to some realisation that, while you may be simply looking at an image on the screen, a child’s life is blighted in a way that child may never fully recover from.

“Those who seek to access those photographs promote the nasty and vile business.”

Sparing Richards jail in favour of a three-year supervision requirement, he imposed a strict Sexual Offences Prevention Order allowing police to search his Pentillie Crescent home at any time.

But Judge Darlow stopped short of extending the order to ban all use of the internet.

Richards, who is now on the sex offenders register, was also ordered to attend a sexual offending programme, banned from working with children and told to pay a contribution towards prosecution costs.