David James Horman

Age:  30.

Plea: Guilty.

Details of Offence:

A warrant issued pursuant to the Protection of Children (Jersey) Law 1994 was executed at the accused’s home address.

A subsequent forensic examination of the accused’s laptop revealed he had used a software program to exchange indecent images of children with a number of other people.

The possession charge related to a total of 282 images.  These fell into all five Copine levels (including four images at level 5) involving children aged 8 to 15 (the majority aged 14 to 15).

The distribution charge related to 110 separate instances of distribution involving a total of 35 individual images.  These fell within Copine levels 1 to 4 (a substantial number falling within level 4).  The ages of children shown in the images distributed was 12 to 15 (the majority aged 14 to 15).  Most distribution had taken place during an eight month period prior to the accused’s arrest.

In addition, the accused was found to have posted obscene stories on an internet website.  These concerned the subject of incest.  One involved a boy of 15.  It was clear the illegal images and stories were part of a far larger collection of adult pornography stored on the accused’s laptop.

During interview the accused was generally co-operative with the Police and made frank admissions.  He maintained throughout he had never searched for child pornography and did not want material of that nature on his laptop (although he did admit he had viewed images of young children performing oral sex).  He said the software used to exchange the pictures was such that he could not control what other people sent him.  Images were automatically saved to the hard drive of his computer.  The accused admitted an interest in incest.  It was clear he had used his computer for the purposes of chatting with others with a similar interest.  He had deleted some underage images sent to him.  The accused said he did not think he needed help.

During subsequent interview the accused admitted using a website associated with the picture exchanging software to locate people with similar sexual preferences.  He had operated using a pseudonym.  He agreed that during a number of online conversations he had referred to a preference for 14 and 15 year old girls.  He vehemently denied ever having abused children.

Details of Mitigation:

Residual credit on account of youth. Previous good character (it being noted that in R-v-Oliver and others [2003] 1 Crim App. R. (S) 28 “some, but not much, weight should be attached to good character” in cases of this nature).  Guilty pleas (although not entered at the very earliest possible stage).  Co-operation with the authorities.  Remorse.

Previous Convictions:

None.

Conclusions:

Count 1:

6 months’ imprisonment, concurrent.

Count 2:

6 months’ imprisonment, consecutive.

Count 3:

9 months’ imprisonment.

Total: 15 months’ imprisonment.

Forfeiture and destruction of laptop sought.

Sentence and Observations of Court:

The defendant stood to be sentenced for offences of publishing obscene material and possession/distribution of indecent images of children.  The ages of those depicted ranged from 8 to 15 (the majority being 14 to 15).  A significant number of images were level 4.  They had been obtained from and circulated on the internet.  In this respect the default setting of the accused’s computer had been altered so as automatically to enlarge the images.  The vast majority of indecent material on the accused’s laptop did not involve children.

A total of 55 category 4 images had been distributed.

The gravamen of the offences, particularly that of distribution, lay in the generation of further interest in this type of pornography which itself generated further abuse of children.  If it was possible to suppress interest in this sort of material by passing severe sentences the abuse of children would hopefully diminish.

Accordingly, it was almost inevitable that offences of this nature resulted in custody.

There was much mitigation.  In particular, the accused now realised what damage to other children this behaviour could cause.  He was a first offender and had been co-operative.  He had made admissions when first apprehended and sought voluntary psychological help.

The Court had been much assisted by the Social Enquiry and Psychological reports.  It had considered whether a non-custodial sentence could be passed.  On balance it had concluded prison must follow.

The Court wanted the accused to know it did not view him as a monster.  He had been drawn into a network in which children had been abused and corrupted.  The Court hoped he would seek help in prison to cure him of his addiction.  He had many good qualities.  In the circumstances the Court would reduce slightly the conclusions of the Crown.

Count 1:

4 months’ imprisonment.

Count 2:

4 months’ imprisonment, concurrent.

Count 3:

8 months’ imprisonment, consecutive.

Total: 12 months’ imprisonment.

Forfeiture and destruction of laptop ordered.