February 2015

Former foster carer from Barrow sentenced for indecent images of children

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A FORMER Barrow school governor and foster carer to 50 children has been jailed for 16 months after downloading thousands of images and videos of child abuse.

Gordon Williams, 65, from Rustlings Court in Barrow, had already pleaded guilty to 12 counts of making indecent images of children when he appeared at Preston Crown Court yesterday.

The sordid material mostly featured girls aged between 10 and 12 – but some featured both boys and girls “significantly younger,” the court heard.

Some of the images showed children in “pain and distress”, said prosecutor Mr Harry Pepper.

The court heard Williams was a school governor responsible for the safeguarding of children until shortly after his arrest – and would have had vulnerable children referred to him.

The defendant, who had no previous convictions, and his wife fostered for 30 years, but Williams told police he had “never touched” a child.

Mr Brian Williams, defending, said his client had been left a “broken man”.

He said:“He could walk around his home town with his head held high, was respected by friends and colleagues and had a happy family life. But he was hiding a secret which has now come to light.”

Judge Jacqueline Beech, passing sentence, said: “You are intelligent enough to appreciate that each indecent picture or video of a child represents a picture or video of a crime scene.”

The court heard Williams was arrested after Cumbria police were tipped off by a national crime agency.

Computers, hard drives and USB memory sticks were recovered by officers containing images ranging from Category A – the highest level of indecency according to sentencing guidelines – to Category C.

Mr Pepper said 227 Category A images or videos were found, alongside 314 classified as Category B and 1,745 Category C.

Detective Inspector Neil Cooper said: “It is very rare that someone who has fostered children is involved in this type of offence. It is completely unacceptable for anyone to access these type of images, let alone someone who is in a position of trust. This prosecution shows we will act on any information we receive to bring those involved to justice.”

Analysis of Williams’ internet browsing history by police experts revealed he had used search terms including “lolita” “pre-teens” and “schoolgirl sex”.

Williams claimed he was curious and had looked at them due to his “voyeuristic” streak.

Judge Beech said: “The psychological and physical harm to the children is unfathomable. The psychological harm continues into adulthood and beyond.”

As well as the jail term, Williams must sign the sex offender register for 10 years, is barred from working with children and was given a 10-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order restricting internet usage and possession of devices capable of storing digital images.