October 2002

Man kept child porn

A West Sussex council caretaker who downloaded child pornography was caught when he took his home computer to be mended.

Repair staff reported Paul Simms to the police when they found the indecent images in folders including “my pictures” and “my videos”.

Simms, 33, a caretaker at Arun District Council’s civic offices in Littlehampton, was yesterday sentenced to a three-year community rehabilitation order.

Police went to Simms’ home in Norfolk Road, Littlehampton, with a search warrant after they were tipped off by the Time repair centre, where he had taken his keyboard to be mended.

When they searched his home, they found a computer disc containing more downloaded photographs.

Beverley Cherrill, prosecuting at Chichester Crown Court, said police found 38 indecent images in total, many involving gay child pornography.

She said: “There is a range of one to ten with regard to the seriousness of such photographs and these are rated between seven and nine.”

In a police interview, Simms said he went into internet chat rooms and had the images sent to him.

He said he did not realise that keeping the photographs was against the law.

Piers Power, defending, said Simms had never sought to deny he had downloaded the images and had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing at Worthing Magistrates Court to possessing indecent photographs of children.

He said: “He knows that if it wasn’t for people like him those children would not be asked to go through what they do.”

Sentencing, Judge Anthony Thorpe said: “Courts have a special duty to protect the young and vulnerable in society, particularly from acts of depravity, and they can only do so by passing appropriate sentences to make it clear that such crimes will not be tolerated.”

He also ordered Simms to attend a sex offenders programme for 160 hours and put his name on the sex offenders’ register for five years.

In a statement Arun District Council said: “The council would like to emphasise that Mr Simms’ duties as an office superintendent did not involve any responsibility for or with minors/children and that his offences were committed at his own home, in his own time, on his own computer equipment.

“He is currently suspended from his work, which involved assisting in the day-to-day upkeep, repair and operation of the Arun Civic Centre.