May 2016

Exeter computer expert created secret compartment to hide child sexual abuse movies


A computer expert created a secret section on his home built computer to hide his hoard of indecent images of children

Christopher Drew-Smith downloaded tens of thousands of items of adult pornography but also accessed a number of movies and images showing serious child abuse.

His computer had to be sent to Home Office specialists to unscramble an encrypted hard drive on which they also found 75 images of bestiality which showed adult women having sex with animals.

The images were found on a separate H drive on his computer which included sub folders with titles such as ‘Teen’ and ‘Beast’, Exeter Crown Court.

Drew-Smith told police he had no sexual interest in children and had downloaded the abuse images out of curiosity. He said he stored them in an encrypted drive because he was worried his partner would find them.

He was ordered to receive treatment from the probation service after a judge told him he had ‘yielded to his carnal desires’.

Drew-Smith, aged 56, of Thornberry Road, Exeter, admitted four counts of making indecent images of children and one of possessing extreme pornography.

He was jailed for 12 months, suspended for two years, ordered to receive two years supervision, and told to pay £440 costs by Recorder Mr Andrew Maitland.

He told him:”I am satisfied you encrypted this material because you wanted privacy from your partner rather than as a precaution against a visit by the police.

“The fact is that your relationship broke down, you became depressed, drank too much and developed an interest in pornography which accelerated.

“The number of images which were legal was over 60,000 and in your hunger for pornography you became curious about images of children aged 11 to 14.

“It seems you were more than just curious. This material was clearly retained for your gratification. In the case of the extreme images of sexual perversion, it may be that curiosity led to enjoyment and gratification.”

The Judge ordered Drew-Smith to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for ten years and made a Sexual Harm Prevention Order which bans him from having any encoded drives and allows police to check him internet use.

He said the order was necessary because of Drew-Smith’s sophisticated knowledge of computers and added:”You have fallen foul once already to your carnal desires.”

Mr Tristan Harwood, prosecuting, said Drew-Smith was identified in 2013 by an international investigation as one of a number of people worldwide who had accessed child abuse images on a peer-to-peer file sharing site.

His home was searched in 2014 and he admitted having illegal images on an encoded drive. The password he gave to the police was either one digit out or mis recorded with the result that it had to be sent to the Home Office to be unlocked.

A total of 80 images or movies of children were found, half of which were at the highest category A, which shows very serious abuse or rape of children by adults.

A further 75 images or movies showed bestiality, mostly depicting adult women having sex with animals.

Mr Harwood said:”The computer had been built by the defendant with some files in an encrypted, ring fenced, area which could not be accessed by others.

“He said this was to prevent his partner finding the material but it could be observed these were great lengths to go to and it may be he was also interested in others obtaining the data.

“The different sorts of pornographic images had been stored in sub-files. The category A child images were found in a file called Teen and the extreme images in a file called Beast.

“He also had a memory stick which contained an eraser programme which securely deleted material when plugged into the computer. The was also an application for the file sharing site e-mule.”