November 2007

Engineer escapes jail over pictures

AN engineer who was caught with child pornography on his laptop computer has been spared jail.

Simon Ashton, from Darlington, was given a three-year community order with probation service supervision.

The 44-year-old single father was also ordered to attend a sex offenders’ group work programme and pay £500 costs.

He will also have to sign on the sex offenders’ register for five years, and have his laptop confiscated.

The images were found after police raided Ashton’s home in Chestnut Drive on September 26 last year.

Ashton admitted downloading adult pornography from the internet, but insisted he did not store child images.

Computer experts were able to prove that a considerable number of indecent pictures of children had been created and deleted.

It was also possible to show that Ashton, an engineer at Durham Tees Valley Airport, had visited pornographic websites.

He admitted five specimen counts of making indecent photographs of a child between June and September last year.

He denied a charge of possessing a further 68 indecent photographs because it would have been impossible to retrieve them after being deleted.

Judge Peter Bowers told Ashton: “The internet is a great blessing, but it is also a great curse.

“The problem with child pornography is that it represents horrific abuse of children.

“In many respects, this case involves far fewer (images) than many I have had to deal with.”

Deborah Sherwin, prosecuting, told Teesside Crown Court that Ashton’s laptop was downloading adult porn from the internet when the police raided his home.

In interview, Ashton told officers he did not deliberately search for images of children.

He said that on occasions he clicked on an adult image and it contained youngsters, animals or torture, but he would always delete them.

After being given bail, Ashton was questioned again when an examination of the computer showed previously deleted pictures of youngsters.