May 2021

Videos of child abuse ‘depraved beyond belief’ among 1.7m images found on man’s computer

A man was caught with more than 420,000 pictures and videos of child sexual abuse – and a staggering 1.3m further images police did not check or categorise.

The ages of the children involved ranged from babies just a few months old up to teenagers.

Officers also found William Field had sold thousands of indecent images to a sex offender for £200.

Sending the 54-year-old to prison a judge told the defendant some of the images he had collected were “depraved beyond belief”.

Swansea Crown Court heard the offending came to light when police executed a search warrant at Field’s home in May 2020.

Sophie Hill, prosecuting, said the the defendant was not present for the search but officers seized a number of electronic devices from his property. A preliminary examination of the devices – known as “triaging” – showed the presence of indecent images. Officers went to the defendant’s place of work and arrested him.

The court heard Field told police he had “thousands of images” but in fact officers were to uncover a “vast quantity” of pictures and videos totalling more than 1.7m in number.

Miss Hill said police viewed and categorised 424,401 indecent images with 4,307 in Category A – showing the most extreme kinds of abuse – another 4,328 in Category B, and 415,766 in Category C. She said officers uncovered another 1.3m images but did not view or categorise them.

The prosecutor said the Category A images featured babies up to children aged three and as an example of the kind of material involved one of the videos showed an obviously distressed boy aged between 12 and 24 months being subjected to “sadomasochistic acts” including rape and defecation .

The oldest children being exploited featured in the Category C images and they were estimated to be aged from 11 to 15 years.

Police also found images of so-called adult “extreme pornography” on the defendant’s devices which showed acts of bestiality with a dog. The images had been downloaded over a 10-year period.

Miss Hill said officers found evidence Field had actively searched online for indecent images including making extensive use of a Tor internet browser which allowed him to access files from the dark web.

The court heard that the month after Dyfed-Powys Police arrested Field the force was contacted by colleagues in Bedfordshire Police who told them about communications they had uncovered between the defendant and a man they had arrested called Jamie McPherson.

The prosecutor said the two men had discussed child sexual abuse and McPherson had sent Field a computer hard drive onto which he uploaded indecent images before posting it back. She said officers found more than 55,000 images of child abuse on the hard drive of Categories A, B, and C and another 98,000 images they had not checked. Field was paid £200 by McPherson for the images with the transaction confirmed in a text message between the pair.

William John Field, of Queen Street, Aberystwyth, had previously pleaded guilty to possessing and distributing indecent images of children of Categories A, B, and C and to possessing extreme pornography when the appeared in the dock for sentencing.

He has eight previous convictions for 13 offences though none are of a like nature.

Judge Paul Thomas QC said the haul of images found on Field’s computers was the largest he had encountered during his 25 years sitting in the crown court.

He said the Category A images the defendant downloaded showed abuse that was “depraved beyond belief” and he told Field that his desire to masturbate over such images “fuels the evil trade” in indecent images.

He added that he wondered whether the councillor who wrote the reference was aware of the nature of images Field had been collecting.

Following the sentencing guidelines and giving the defendant the required one-third discount for his guilty pleas the judge sentenced him to two years and four months in prison.

Field will serve up to half that period in custody before being released on licence under the UK government’s early release scheme.

The defendant will be on the sex offenders register for the next 10 years and was made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order to control his access to the internet for the same length of time.