January 2003

Scout leader jailed over child porn

A scout leader and company executive from north Wales found with more than 34,000 pornographic images of children on his computer has been jailed for 10 months.

Police raided Mark Preston’s home in Buckley,Flintshire as part of the worldwide probe into child pornography on the internet, Operation Ore, following a tip-off by American FBI agents.

The images discovered on the 36-year-old’s hard drive portrayed children from a very young age through to teenagers.

Preston, who had been involved in the scout movement all his life, was placed on the sex offenders register after he admitted a total of 17 specimen charges.

In total police uncovered 45,500 indecent images at the defendant’s house on Farm Road.

It was accepted that some were duplicates.

Mold Crown Court heard that 90% of the images contained nudity and erotic scenes with no sexual activity.

He was caught as part of a world wide investigation into child pornography on the internet.

American authorities raided a company called Landslide Inc in September 1999 and passed on details of subscribers to websites containing indecent material.

Since his arrest in the early hours of May last year Preston has lost his job and left Buckley to live with his mother in Leicestershire.

Judge John Rogers QC said children made to pose for such photographs would undoubtedly suffer.

“The photographs would not be taken if it were not for the commercial gain made from people like you who view them.

“That is why a custodial sentence is inevitable,” he said.

However, the judge said there were matters which went in his favour.

Preston co-operated immediately with police officers and pleaded guilty to the charges against him.

He was an experienced computer user who meticulously catalogued the material based on how much the material appealed to him.