December 2007

Scout leader sentenced for child porn

A SCOUT leader who downloaded child porn has been given a community order.

Alex Searle, who lives in Orpington High Street, will be under supervision for three years under the London Probation Community Sexual Offenders’ Group Work Programme.

Searle was a leader at the 7th Petts Wood Scout Group at the time he was arrested on April 12.

Following his arrest, the 26-year-old was immediately suspended from the group, which is based in Tent Peg Lane, Petts Wood, and made up of boys and girls aged from six to 18.

He was sentenced at Croydon Crown Court on December 7 after pleading guilty to 12 counts of making indecent images when he appeared on November 9.

An investigation began when Searle’s home was searched by police in connection with the theft of between £14,000 and £16,000 worth of computer games and equipment from his workplace – Gamestation, also in Orpington High Street.

During the search on April 12, police discovered 44 printed indecent photographs of children aged between four and 16 hidden under his bed.

Officers also seized two computers and found another 44 images on the hard drive.

In addition to the 100 images graded between Level 1 and Level 5 – the most serious – police found a collection of 914 images of children in sportswear, swimming costumes, school uniforms and Scouting uniforms.

Tests on Searle’s computer revealed a history of searches for images using the words under 8 boys, under 7 boys, Lolita, little girl and preteen.

Judge John Tanzer told Searle: “In April 2007, you began as a respectable member of the community.

“More than that, you were someone who was involved in voluntary work with the Scouts, somebody who people trusted to leave their children with.”

 

The judge noted in the scale of offences of this type, Searle’s case was relatively minor and the number of images in his possession was small.

However, he added: “They show a seriously perverted character and it is a perversion which has a price, a price paid by children worldwide.

“It is right people who promote this market by being willing consumers should in turn pay the price for doing so.

“What is right to emphasise is there is no suggestion in any direct way you have abused any children in your charge.”

Searle was also given a sexual offences provision order banning him from working with children and put on the Sex Offenders’ Register.

  • Searle had already pleaded guilty to the theft of between £14,000 and £16,000 worth of stock from Gamestation. He was given an 18-month community sentence at Croydon Crown Court on September 3.