September 2003

Nurses caught with child abuse images

Crouched over his computer, nurse Matthew Forster thought he was untouchable as he downloaded sickening images of child abuse

He had a special computer programme which he thought protected him from the prying eyes of the authorities. 

But thousands of miles away in America, the FBI were on his trail. And when they alerted police in Britain, officers from Northumbria Police struck. 

Just hours after the 40-year-old finished loading the images on to his computer, they struck, a court heard. 

Forster, 40, formerly of The Villas, St Mary’s Hospital, Stannington near Morpeth, was jailed for two months at Durham Crown Court. 

He was tracked as part of Operation Ore, the FBI-headed worldwide investigation into internet child pornography sites. 

Also sentenced was another nurse, David Short of Hextol Terrace, Hexham, who was given a two-year community rehabilitation order and ordered to attend a sex offenders’ course. 

Both men had pleaded guilty at earlier hearings to downloading the child pornography. 

Forster, who worked for the Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland Mental Health NHS Trust, was caught and jailed when his details appeared on websites monitored by the FBI. 

His details were passed to police who pounced on October 8, raiding the staff nurse’s home and snatching his computer equipment. 

In total there were 1,442 images in his collection. 

Judge Beatrice Bolton also passed an extended licence period of 18 months and ordered that Forster should go on the sex offenders’ register for seven years. 

Married Short, 46, had quit his job as a theatre nurse at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary shortly after his arrest. 

After police seized computer equipment belonging to Short, again on October 8, he admitted downloading pictures in a six-month period from 1999 to 2000, but had then deleted them. 

Sentencing him to a two-year community rehabilitation order and putting him on a sex offenders’ group programme, as well as the sex offenders’ register for five years, Judge Bolton also ordered him to pay costs of pounds 722. 

Both were caught after using their credit cards to buy access to US child porn websites.