February 2021

Indecent child images pervert sentenced

A pervert who downloaded thousands of indecent images of children said he kept trying to find pictures of Madeleine McCann in an effort to help police, a court heard.

Robert John Harrod admitted a series of charges relating to his possession of photographs and videos over a 12-year period.

Harrod, 58 and of Keeble Road, Bournemouth, received an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with a rehabilitation activity requirement, at Bournemouth Crown Court.

Sentencing judge, Recorder Simon Levine, told Harrod there was mainly a need for rehabilitation rather than punishment in his case, but added: “You came quite close to an immediate sentence of imprisonment.”

Prosecuting, David Jenkins said officers raided the defendant’s home in December 2018 after police received intelligence that his IP address had been used to download indecent images of children.

Police seized a Dell computer tower, a hard drive disk from a previous computer and three DVDs.

Mr Jenkins said: “He (Harrod) accepted he had the images when he was interviewed, stating ‘no thanks’ to the offer of a solicitor, ‘I’m guilty, I just want to talk’.”

Harrod told police he started to download the images by accident as a result of downloading movies.

He continued to download indecent images after Madeleine McCann went missing in 2007 with the intention of reporting it to police if he saw her, the court heard.

The defendant told officers he did not gain sexual gratification, claiming his actions relating to the images was “out of curiosity”, the prosecutor said.

Police found a total of 6,487 indecent still and moving images of children, with 395 most serious Category A images, 519 Category B, 5,572 Category C and one listed as a prohibited image.

Mr Jenkins said the defendant would watch or look at the image on the computer before deleting it, with files found dating back to May 2006.

The judge said while Harrod admitted seven charges of making indecent images, this was a case of possessing images and not taking or distributing. Harrod was issued with a sexual harm prevention order and placed on the sex offenders register until further order.

He said the taking and filming of the images that the defendant downloaded had involved the sexual abuse of many children.

The judge told Harrod: “Although you are at one end of the scale and the people taking the images and the people abusing the children are at the other end of the scale, still you are on the same scale.”