June 2021

Former police officer claims he was bombarded with indecent images after trying to join paedophile hunters

A former police officer claimed he was “bombarded” with images – including sick photos of children as young as one – after trying to become a paedophile hunter.

Neil Bowdery said he had met a man called ‘James’ because he wanted to join the hunting group

But when asked why he didn’t report the illegal messages to his iPhone said he had romantic feelings towards the man and feared driving him away.

A judge has now heard how when police seized a mobile phone belonging to another pervert, they discovered Bowdery’s telephone number on it.

Prosecutor Naomi Perry told Maidstone Crown Court: “Police officers engaged in dealing with indecent images seized a mobile phone.

“After looking at that phone they discovered a link to the defendant, who had been communicating by chat and that images had been sent to Bowdery.”

She said the ex-cop asked if the other man had “any nice pics lately” and “Do you have any to send.”

Ms Perry said the two men then talked about children and Bowdery sent the man a lewd message about his daughter.

Officers later discovered Bowdery had received an image of a girl.

The prosecutor added that Bowdery then asks if it would be “OK” to message the child?

In February or March 2020 he messaged a woman asking: “Any chance of some w****** material today LOL?”

Bowdery, formerly of Goldstone Walk, Chatham, was raided by police in September last year when his iPhone, containing the illegal images, was taken.

Bowdery later told investigators that he was an ex-police officer and “in the course of his work, he had come across a man who claimed to be a paedophile hunter,” said the prosecutor.

She added: “There was a man, given the name of James, who had sent him Category A nude images.

“He said he had bombarded him with images. Bowdery said he was doing all this to become a paedophile hunter.”

The prosecutor said that in a later interview, Bowdery said he had “got involved with this man and didn’t feel able to challenge him.”

Bowdery said the other man had sent him “shed loads of images” but not all of children.

His interviewer asked: “Why didn’t you report him?” and Bowdery replied: “Because of the bi (sexual) thing. I know I should have done it but I didn’t want him losing interest in me.”

The 37-year-old, who now works at a garden centre, admitted possessing nine images of children on his phone, across all three categories of seriousness.

He was given a 15-month jail sentence suspended for a year, ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work for the community and has been made subject of a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

The Judge, Recorder James Dawson, said: “You know in your own mind that this was totally unacceptable behaviour.”

In 2013, he was cleared of allowing a schizophrenic man to die in front of him as he tried to return him to hospital.