October 2017

Hull RAF officer’s bizarre excuse for having sick images and films of child abuse

A “distinguished” RAF officer who narrowly missed being aboard a doomed reconnaissance flight in Afghanistan has been ordered to have rehabilitation after admitting possessing indecent images of children.

Hull airman Matthew Fowler, 34, only left the crew of an RAF Nimrod a week before it crashed on a routine reconnaissance mission in 2006 with the loss of all 14 crew. It was the British military’s biggest single loss of life since the Falklands War.

Fowler, who joined the air force as an enlisted man and rose through the ranks to be commissioned as an officer, now finds his career hanging by a thread after admitting three offences of making indecent images of children.

He had also taken part in online chats discussing child abuse, Hull Crown Court heard.

When Fowler, of Greenwich Park, Kingswood, was arrested and interviewed he denied having a sexual interest in children, but claimed he “had a fascination about what other people were prepared to talk about,” prosecutor Megan Rhys told the court.

Police recovered two of Fowler’s computers from his base at RAF High Wycombe and found they contained a range of indecent images and films. In total, there were 21 images and six moves at Category A – featuring the worst forms of child abuse – 30 images and six movies at Category B; and 44 images and two movies at Category C.

Miss Rhys said Fowler also told police: “He would view the material then delete it. He accepted all the photographs and videos were there as a result of his actions.”

The judge said he was of “distinguished good character” through his service, and he was able to taken an “exceptional course” by not sending him to jail.

Fowler was sentenced to a three-year community order, and must attend the Northumbria sex offenders group programme and have 60 days rehabilitation. He must register as a sex offender for five years and was made subject to a sexual harm prevention order for the same period.