April 2012

Ex-Navy officer jailed after massive haul of child porn uncovered

A FORMER Royal Navy aircraft carrier flight deck director has been jailed after police found thousands of child porn images on his computer.

Derek Lawrence, who served on HMS Ark Royal and HMS Albion before becoming an aircraft handler on North Sea oil rigs, had more than 13,500 child abuse images and 500 videos stored on a computer at his Angus home.

He later told police he found the images “quite exciting” and said he was “addicted” to downloading the pictures.

But Lawrence claimed he did not think he could be caught because he did not pay to subscribe to any of the sites.

Fiscal depute Nicola Gillespie told Forfar Sheriff Court that police had received intelligence linking a computer at Lawrence’s home to the content.

First offender Lawrence told officers he had visited websites containing general pornography and child abuse images, and directed police to computer equipment within the house, which was seized and subsequently examined. The court was given the breakdown of images and videos at the five levels on the scale used to categorise indecent images of children.

The haul ranged from 5,098 photos and 39 videos at the lowest level, level one, to 201 images and 20 videos at the most serious point on the scale, level five.

In a voluntary interview at Arbroath police office, Lawrence told officers he had used file sharing sites to access material, explaining how he would type in certain entries to find images.

Lawrence was then shown a selection of images and video clips and the court heard he described to officers scenes of abuse involving young girls aged from just three or four up to around 12 to 14 years old.

He was also asked if he knew it was illegal to search sites for such material and he said he did.

Ms Gillespie added: “He said that he didn’t think he would get caught as he didn’t pay or subscribe.”

A file sharing site was found on two of the computers, and the prosecutor added: “Although there’s no evidence to prove that he is involved in the distribution, the facility was there on his computer.”

Lawrence, 64, of Kirriemuir, Angus, pleaded guilty on indictment to downloading and being in possession of indecent photographs or pseudo photographs of children between 28 July 2009 and 20 May 2011.

Defence lawyer Bob Bruce said Lawrence had been “frank and open” about his actions.

He said: “He has an unblemished record and was with the Royal Navy on HMS Ark Royal and HMS Albion.”

Lawrence, who married eight years ago, had been forced to resign from his job.

Mr Bruce added: “Curiosity was a major factor in viewing the images.”

Sheriff Kevin Veal jailed Lawrence for 16 months, placed him on the sex offenders register for ten years and ordered he be remain on licence on his release.