May 2010

EX-CUMBRIA UNIVERSITY BOSS SPARED PRISON FOR HUGE CHILD PORN HAUL

Michael Baker, of Etterby Street, Carlisle, instead received a one-year prison sentence suspended for two years when he was sentenced yesterday. He has also been ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.

Detectives discovered 15,000 illegal images – some classed as being the most serious possible – on two computers at his Carlisle home.

Baker, the University of Cumbria’s former head of estates, actually had 180,000 pictures and 1,200 movies on his machine – a high percentage of which a judge was told were “illegal pornographic images of children”.

Officers described the 47-year-old father, who pleaded guilty to 25 charges of making indecent images of children, as the most extreme collector they had encountered in several years.

The images, five of which were at level five – the most serious – included pictures of prepubescent children involved in acts of sadism.

Sentencing, at Carlisle Crown Court, Judge Barbara Forrester said Baker had been dishonest with police, his family and probably himself about what he had done.

She said she could not send him to prison for long enough for him to undergo a full course of rehabilitation for his crime. And, for that reason, she stepped back from an immediate custodial sentence, telling Baker it was “to ensure you receive the treatment you need”.

Judge Forrester added:“Originally, you said to police they were adult. When they questioned that, you said they looked like adults – they were maybe 15 or 16 years old. It was clear from the photographs that the children were far less than that – possibly 10 to 13 years old.”

Baker had told the Probation Service that he had been interested in cracking codes to access the pictures.

But Judge Forrester, who told Baker it was clear he had deliberately stored images, said that was “hardly very difficult” when they were sent to him.

She said that although some would argue there were no victims cases such as his, she told Baker there were. “The victims are the children in the photographs,” she added, saying that people such as him created a market for such images, meaning more children would become victims.

As well as the total 52-week suspended sentence and signing the sex offenders’ register, Baker was sentenced to a two-year supervision order and must attend a sex offenders’ treatment programme.

He will be subject to a sex offenders’ prevention order, which includes banning him from contact with children without their parents’ knowledge of his crimes and from owning a computer with internet access without safeguarding software.

Baker has also been disqualified from working with children and must pay £1,800 court costs.

Before sentencing, the judge was told that Baker’s wife was aware of the seriousness of his offending. The Probation Service had recommended a suspended sentence with the treatment order to prevent him reoffending.

Detective Superintendent Andy Slattery said:“Due to the levels of the images Judge Forrester has sentenced him accordingly. He will be monitored as a sex offender very closely for 10 years.

“The detection and prosecution of those making, sharing and collecting child abuse images is of the utmost importance to us.

“We will continue to actively target all those we suspect to be involved in this appalling trade.”