November 2011

323 child sex abuse photos found on IT expert’s PCs

AN IT expert has been banned from owning a computer, camera or mobile phone after he was convicted of downloading images of child sex abuse.

Family man Paul Lancaster downloaded hundreds of images, some of which were rated level five by child protection agencies, meaning they showed the worst kind of child abuse, often including sexual violence against young children.

He then attempted to cover his tracks by running a computer cleaning programme.

Lancaster was given a suspended prison sentence. The court also banned the press from reporting his address.

The 39-year-old pleaded guilty to 21 counts of making or possessing indecent photographs of children, and Judge William Morris sentenced him to four months in prison suspended for two years. He was also ordered to undertake an internet sexual offending treatment programme.

Judge Morris stressed that father-of-two Lancaster’s crime was serious, with the victims being the children in the images.

“They are real children being really abused, sometimes in the most dreadful way,” he said.

Lancaster will be placed on the sex offenders’ register for seven years and Judge Morris also made an order prohibiting him from possessing any device capable of storing digital images at his home unless it is made available for inspection by police on request.

The court heard how, in late 2010, the computer hardware engineer’s internet address was identified by police as having downloaded child pornography from a server in Luxembourg.

In October, he was arrested and when his computers were examined they found 323 pornographic images of children ranging in age from four to 12 years and some of the images were rated level five.

Patrick Williamson, prosecuting, said a computer expert had discovered that the specialist computer cleaning software had been used on the machines more than 200 times to remove images.

He added that Lancaster had admitted using the software to stop his wife stumbling across images by accident or being detected by police.

Andrew Costello, defending, said Lancaster had previously been a man of good character but, as a result of his crime, his family had now split up.