Sheffield nurse had hundreds of indecent images of children
Extreme pornography, showing the abuse of animals as well as people, was also among the ‘highly unsavoury’ material viewed by Andrew McLeish.
Father-of-two McLeish, aged 53, a former senior operating theatre practitioner at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, was handed a suspended prison sentence when he appeared at Nottingham Crown Court.
Judge James Sampson told him: “I accept it is unlikely that you would transfer your attentions into direct action against children.
“But these are gross offences. You were partaking in the abuse of children by viewing images of the most distressing kind.
“You used particular software to access this material, and you dedicated yourself to this activity for a number of years.”
McLeish was arrested after his home in Higham, Alfreton was raided in March last year, the court was told by Nicholas Burn, prosecuting.
He was at work at the time, but his wife and two children were in as police officers executed a search warrant and removed hard drives and computer equipment from a workshop at the address.
When the hard drives were examined, more than 1,100 images of children were discovered, many of them classed as category A, as well as movies.
“Some of the equipment seized allowed McLeish to browse the web and use chat forums with anonymity,” said Mr Burn.
The family computer was also taken away from the house. A hardware fault meant that only five per cent of data could be located, but even this revealed 45 more indecent images of children and another movie.
“Some of the children were as young as six to 12 months,” said Mr Burn. “They were depicted in various sexual settings. It was highly unsavoury material, containing distressing activities.”
When interviewed by police, McLeish offered no comment or explanation for his behaviour.
But in court, he pleaded guilty to four charges relating to making or possessing indecent images of children and extreme pornography.
McLeish’s barrister, William Bennett, said: “He accepts that this was illegal behaviour and that he has a real problem and needs help.
“For some time, he has been depressed. He was at a low ebb and had problems in his family life.
“This has had an enormous effect on him.”
The court heard that, since his arrest, McLeish’s marriage had collapsed, and he had lost his job. He was now living with his parents in Essex.
The judge sentenced him to a total of 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years. He was ordered to come under the supervision of the probation service for 12 months and attend an Internet sexual offending programme.
McLeish was also placed on the sex offenders’ register and subjected indefinitely to a sexual harm prevention order, which means he he is not allowed to use or possess any computer material that allows him to access the Internet unless it retains its history and can be easily examined.
Failure to comply with this order would make him liable to a punishment of five years in jail.