March 2009

Paedophile shame of top photographer

One of Hampshire’s most vile paedophiles has been jailed for two years.

Hampshire photographer Robert Erik Russell was sentenced this morning after being found guilty of possessing more than 32,000 indecent photographs and videos of children.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard how the 55-year-old systematically catalogued the horrific images on his computer at his home in Burrard Grove, in Lymington.

The 55-year-old still denies any involvement despite his computer records showing he had paid access to a number of websites that contained graphic images.

HE BUILT up his reputation as a photographer by working with some of the most famous names in the world.

Erik Russell started taking pictures as a child and his career ranged from taking shoots for global magazines to snapping Olympic sailing medallist Ben Ainslie as he met local schoolchildren.

But beneath this guise is one of the county’s most vile paedophiles who enjoys watching youngsters subjected to torture and horrific sexual abuse.

Today, as he prepares to be jailed for the sickening crimes, which he has managed to keep a secret in the town where he lives, the Daily Echo can reveal the true horror of what he did.

Russell, who lives with his partner in Lymington, was uncovered by detectives from Hampshire police’s Child Abuse Investigation Unit.

He was arrested in his home by officers who swooped and seized his computers and photographic equipment during an undercover operation on October 19, 2006.

His computer records showed he had paid to access a number of websites which contained graphic images and videos of children – mainly girls from toddlers to teens.

It took detectives weeks to plough through the thousands of horrific images and videos.

Eventually detectives concluded that he was responsible for making and possessing a staggering 32,832 photos. Also found were 1,699 videos of the same horrific abuse.

Police used new guidelines to rank the scale of the abuse – with one being the weakest and five the most sickening – and Russell’s disgusting catalogue included the very worst kind.

A further 42,122 pictures were found on his computer that could not be categorised. Likewise, 512 videos were not given a ranking because officers could not be sure they showed children.

Russell was eventually charged with 20 specimen counts of making indecent images and videos (downloading and saving). He was also charged with two further offences of possessing indecent images of a child.

Denying the charges, he stood trial for five days at Portsmouth Crown Court, where a jury took just 50 minutes to unanimously find him guilty.

Until now he has managed to keep his depraved behaviour a secret in the tight-knit community of Lymington, where he moved in 2005 following the acrimonious breakdown of his marriage.