A FORMER Kent police officer who downloaded child porn from the Internet and possessed thousands of indecent images has been freed after serving almost six months in custody.
Paul Hook was told by a judge that he was imposing a three-year community rehabilitation order so he could be kept under careful supervision.
Judge Andrew Patience, QC, said on Monday: “You have effectively served a 12-month sentence. I am going to adopt the (probation) recommendation so that you are subject to a vigorous programme of intervention for three years, because you need it.”
Maidstone Crown Court heard that Hook, of Alex Hughes Close, Snodland, was a probationary officer when he committed the offences.
Adrian Fleming, prosecuting, said the 32-year-old officer came under suspicion after it was discovered his credit card had been used to pay for access to child porn websites.
Police went to his home in June and seized his computer and 165 floppy discs, found to contain offending material.
He at first denied viewing indecent images of children but admitted using his credit card for sites containing material of girls ranging form early teens to 18.
Mr Fleming said Hook, who served as an officer in Maidstone, distributed three images on the Internet by sending them to newsgroups.
The prosecutor said Hook, a father-of-two initially went into custody in June at his own request as there were fears he would harm himself.
He admitted 22 charges of making an indecent photograph of a child, one of distributing such photos and one of possessing nearly 4,000 indecent photos of a child.
Kevin Sparks, defending, said Hook had been shocked by some of the material and reported it to a site called Child Focus. “He still doesn’t understand why he downloaded the material,” he said. “He was saying there was no sexual motive for it.”
“As a result of his activities, he has effectively almost certainly destroyed his life. He has been living with his partner since 1999. It has had a devastating effect on his relationship.”
Judge Andrew Patience told Hook: “It is certain that somewhere on this planet children as young as three and certainly of an age with no understanding of sexual activity are being subjected to horrifying acts of cruelty and degradation.
“This is done by people in an act of calculated wickedness in order to make money once the images have been made and put on the Internet. I hope you understand, therefore, the view I take of this and I am confident other courts will take of this.”
“I am told you have lost your job. You certainly have shown yourself quite incapable of working as a police officer. I am told you may have lost your family. If so, you have only yourself to blame.”
Judge Patience said he wanted a report on Hook’s progress every six months. He will also have to attend a sex offenders programme and remain on the sex offenders’ register for five years.