February 2003

Clerk caught in FBI child abuse images hunt

AN INTERNET child porn downloader caught in the FBI-led worldwide swoop was put on rehabilitation by magistrates at Stafford.

Clerical worker Andrew Ward paid with his credit card to access the site for seven days in 1999, the court heard.

He downloaded 16 indecent images of girls posing but not involved in sexual activity.

Mr David Bell, prosecuting, said Staffordshire police acted on information received from the United States postal service as part of Operation Ore – the international crackdown on internet porn. Officers searched Ward’s home in the village of Gnosall near Stafford and examined his computer, which yielded the illegal images.

“They fall into the lower category of images of this nature. They are indecent but they don’t show any sexual acts and they are not of very young children,” said Mr Bell.

Ward, aged 38, of Near Ridding, Gnosall was put on rehabilitation for three years by Mid Staffordshire magistrates after admitting 16 charges of making indecent pseudo-photographs of a child. He was also ordered to pay £118 costs and register as a sex offender for the next five years.

Presiding magistrate Mrs Sheila Fernyhough told him: “We have considered whether you pose any risk to young children and we have taken the view that this was a single act; you didn’t share the images with others nor sought to make commercial gain and the subject matter was category one.”

Mr Robert Chadwick, defending, said Ward, a graduate with an honours degree, had had to resign from his job as a payroll and pensions assistant.

The downloading had taken place on a single day in July 1999 after he had paid £18.50 to access the site for a week. “He had to give his name and address and credit card details and the US postal services sent the information to the UK police.

The images never left his flat – no-one else saw them. Psychiatrists have indicated he is no danger to anybody; he is not someone who is going to be approaching children, he is not a risk to children in the community. He is deeply ashamed of what happened,” said Mr Chadwick.