November 2020

Preston former Army sergeant’s disgrace as probe reveals stash of thousands of videos and images of children being abused

Thousands of horrific videos and pictures of children being abused were found on a former soldier’s internet storage devices, a court has heard

Derick Hornby, 47, of Avenham Place, Newton, Preston, served his country in a distinguished 25 year career.

But the married dad-of-one’s reputation today lies in tatters after it was revealed he used the Kik Messenger app to share and download links to children as young as two years old being sexually abused by adults.

In addition, police found links on his phone to Russian internet storage sites, which gave anyone with a link access to sordid material.

David Clarke, prosecuting, said the threshold at which police have to stop investigating what is contained in the images due to resourcing issues, was crossed, with around 80,000 images uncategorised.

Officers proceeded with around 21 per cent of the material found – 240 pictures and 639 videos deemed category A – the most serious in law – with 501 videos and 178 pictures at category B, and 1,399 pictures and 162 videos at category C, 12 prohibited images depicting child abuse and 12 extreme images involving adults and animals.

Mr Clarke said: “A number of officers attended the defendant’s home address. They were executing a search warrant because of information they received about internet usage at the address and the apparent uploading for indecent images.

“He conceded he had used Kik Messenger but said his account had been closed.

“He then made an unsolicited comment to the effect he had downloaded a video and watched it, and he realised it was wrong and deleted it.

” He said: ‘Everyone shares stuff.’”

The court heard Hornby, who attended Golborne Comprehensive School near Wigan, had his Kindle and mobile phone seized and examined, and access was gained to a Cloud storage account.

Mr Clarke added: ” The downloading was so extensive it took several days to carry out by police, with 260GB data downloaded.

” A schedule produced by police does depict the ages of the children as between two to approximately 13 years old.

“One of the moving images was over 22 minutes long.”

Mr Rawson, defending, said Hornby had a varied military career, adding: ” Not only has he witnessed death, destruction and mutilation. He has also suffered injury and there is the PTSD lurking, as these things always do, in the background.”

He added Hornby was barred from continuing in the military reserves – listed on his social media account as the 4th Battalion the Duke of Lancaster’s regiment.

Imposing an eight month jail term, Judge Graham Knowles QC ordered him to sign the Sex Offender’s register for a decade and barred him from working with children.

He said: “The ages of the children, who were very young indeed, are an aggravating feature so is the high volume of images, so is the fact your collection was dominated by moving images, so is the fact there were a large number of different victims, and so is the fact you were actively involved in a network or process that facilitates the creating or sharing of indecent images.

“Your reasons are difficult to trace really. It isn’t possible to accept you don’t have any sexual interest in children.”