A RESPECTABLE father-of-four had his secret passion for child abuse images exposed by an undercover operation on the internet, Worcester Crown Court was told.
Robert Miller, an antique dealer from Hereford, was contacted in a chat room and gave details of indecent child pictures he wanted to see, said prosecutor Philip Bradley.
The information was passed on to the police and when they raided his home in Quay Street, Hereford, in July last year they found 270 indecent images on his lap-top and hard-drive.
Mr Bradley said some of the worst pictures showed children, some as young as two and three years old being sexually violated by adults.
Miller, whose address on the court records was given as Canal Boulevard in London, pleaded guilty to six counts of possessing indecent photographs.
He was given an eight-month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 100 hours unpaid work. He will be under the supervision of the probation service for 12 months.
The 52-year-old started his career as a silver expert with Sotheby’s in London and later moved to Shropshire, where he worked for Halls, the auctioneers.
He left to set up an antique shop in Ludlow, but closed it to concentrate on work for private clients in Herefordshire and beyond.
He is the son of businessman Sir Eric Miller – a major supporter of the Labour Party and Prime Minister Harold Wilson in the 1970s – who committed suicide while under investigation for fraud.
Miller was also ordered to pay £340 costs and will be under a sexual harm prevention order for five years.
Ross Cohen, mitigating, submitted a bundle of testimonials and references. He pointed out that most of the photographs were in the least serious category and there was no evidence that there had been any distribution.
The images had not been stored and Miller had shown remorse. He had undertaken treatment for his alcoholism but had become suicidal at one stage.
Before his arrest, he had lived with his wife and four children aged from 21 to 12 and had no previous convictions.
It is understood that he is now separated from his wife.
Detective Constable Lisa Grogan, who investigated the case, said: “Behind every child abuse image is an abused child, an exploited and helpless victim. When these images are circulated online, they can live on forever”.
Judge Robert Juckes QC noted that people had come to court to support Miller but 12 months ago he had been caught on the internet seeking child porn, some of the extreme kind.
The public drew a line against child abuse images, which encouraged and supported the abuse of children. Courts must do what they could to discourage such behaviour with custodial sentences.
But Miller had taken steps to tackle his abuse of alcohol. He had led a hard-working professional life but he had been completely humiliated
The judge ordered the forfeiture and destruction of Miller’s computer equipment.