March 2000

Man jailed over indecent images of children

A LONELY Nelson bachelor was found to have the largest haul of “hard core” Internet child abuse pictures ever seized in this country when police raided his home.

Burnley Crown Court heard how depressed Philip Middleton, 37, had about 14,000 pictures, images or video clips of youngsters being abused on either CD rom or floppy discs.

The welder, who lived with his mother, had become addicted to the “dark side” of the Internet, downloading from a free paedophile site and distributing pornography to perverts, potentially worldwide.

Middleton, who had no previous convictions, fought back tears as his barrister told the court he was ashamed but had thought his actions had not harmed anybody.

He was sent to prison for 12 months and will be on the sex offenders register for ten years.

He admitted two counts of distributing indecent photographs of children, eight allegations of making indecent photographs of children and five of possessing them. The defendant, of Chapelhouse Road, Nelson, had been committed for sentence by Pennine magistrates.

Sentencing him, Judge David Pirie said but for people like Middleton, there would be no reason for others to take and distribute the photographs. He went on: “What is particularly serious is the distribution of these photos, or some of them. You have perpetuated the proliferation potentially worldwide.”

He added there had been no commercial element in the defendant’s activities and went on: “You were a lonely man doing what you did for your own purposes.”

Kendal Lindley, prosecuting, said last May, an officer from the police’s obscene publications group was monitoring a news group when five postings were found from an e-mail address which turned out to be the defendant’s.

Further postings were found and on July 22, police searched Middleton’s home. They seized the largest ever quantity of child pornographic material from the Internet ever recovered in this country.

Amanda Johnson, defending, said before the offences, Middleton had been law abiding and worked as a supervisor at Fort Vale Engineering in Nelson. He had not worked since the matters came to light and had not felt able to leave his house because of the publicity surrounding the case.

The defendant had been caring for his mother when she had been unwell and began to suffer depression in 1998.

He was on anti depressants and had come across the news group by accident when “surfing”.

When he saw the pictures, he was at first shocked by them, but carried on viewing them.

He was on medication and much of the time from mid 1998 to mid 1999 was a blur.

He had never viewed himself as having paedophile tendencies.

He had not been involved in any form of child abuse himself.