June 2003

Porn man ‘hunting his own abuser’

A former textile boss caught viewing internet child pornography claimed he was trying to catch the man who abused him as a schoolboy.

But magistrates told Johnathan Duncan Hardie, 47, that he was adding to the misery of children in the images he viewed.

He was arrested after police found a computer containing 390 pornographic images at his former business premises in Harris Street, in Bradford’s Little Germany, in January.

Hardie, who is married with two children aged five and seven, and two aged 21 and 18 from a previous marriage, was caught using his work’s credit card to subscribe to the site.

Police grade the images from one to five – level five being the most serious. Dewsbury magistrates yesterday heard that of the 20 sample images five were at level four, ten at level three, one at level two and four at level one.

In mitigation Robert Dawson said Hardie, of Spring Street, Huddersfield, was abused as a child at boarding school. He believed pictures were taken of him during the act, and he was trying to find his abuser after an unconnected police investigation into child abuse at the school collapsed.

“With hindsight he accepts that that was probably a pretty forlorn hope considering the size of the internet and the number of people that could access it,” he said.

But Mr Dawson said his client did not see it as an excuse for his actions.

He said: “He particularly feels that way because he knows what it is like to be abused and how damaging that has been to him.

“On many occasions when he was looking for these images he would become emotionally distressed bec-ause of what he was seeing.”

Hardie was given a three-year community rehabilitation order after earlier admitting possessing 20 indecent images of children.

He was also placed on a sex offenders’ programme, ordered to be on the sex offenders’ register for five years, fined £60 costs and had his computer confiscated.

Chairman of the bench Clifford Bromley said he had contributed to the abuse of the children by subscribing to websites. “Having been abused as a young boy you should have been aware of what these children were going through,” he said.

But he gave Hardie credit for pleading guilty at the first chance and co-operating with the police investigation.

“We accept that you have been abused and set out, rightly or wrongly, to seek out your abuser,” he said.