A FORMER police officer who formed links with a paedophile ring has been jailed for three years for downloading and distributing child abuse images.
Nicholas Richmond revealed his “sick” fantasies, including enjoying the suffering of children, in chatrooms on the internet.
A judge told the shamed former Metropolitan Police officer that the worst pictures showed the level of depravity to which he had descended.
Richmond, of Greenfinches, Hempstead, Gillingham, admitted 12 charges of distributing 293 indecent photographs of children aged between eight and 13.
The bearded 59-year-old, who retired in 1999, asked for 20 other similar offences, including possession, making or distribution of over 1,500 images to be taken into consideration.
Maidstone Crown Court heard that Richmond was caught in one of Kent Police’s biggest investigations into child sex abuse called Operation Starlight.
It was discovered that he was in contact with Vincent Jordan, who in October was jailed indefinitely for incitement to kidnap and incitement to rape a child.
Jordan, 47, of Worsley, Manchester, will have to serve four years four months before being considered for release.
Bridget Todd, prosecuting, said scenarios were discussed in chatrooms where children were kidnapped and abused. Chat logs seized from Jordan referred to “Nick”, who turned out to be Richmond.
Police raided his home in April last year and seized two computers. “Of the chat logs, he said they were fantasy stories as part of his persona on the internet,” said Miss Todd.
“He stated to police that he began searching for images around 1997 and 1998 and was still doing it until a few weeks prior to his arrest.
“He was well aware of the law in relation to images and the risks faced in doing it because of his experience as a serving police officer.
“The Crown say the chat logs are indicative of someone who has a sexual interest in children. Quite clearly, from the log, the defendant indicates he enjoys the suffering of children.”
Richmond was banned from working with children and will remain on the sex offenders’ register for life.
Senior investigating officer Det Sgt David Shipley said after the hearing: “There is no excuse for searching, viewing or downloading indecent images of children.
“We continue to work with our partner agencies to ensure that anyone who commits offences of this nature is brought to justice.
“Operation Starlight continues to be a very much ongoing investigation. My colleague, Det Con Judy Gent and I work closely with Ken Goss from the Crown Prosecution Service to bring these offenders before the courts.
“I hope today’s sentencing sends a clear message – Kent Police will not tolerate this terrible abuse of children and we will continue to work with others to protect children from this abuse.
“We will use all the powers and techniques at our disposal to track down and prosecute such offenders.”