Tag Archives: Indecent images

Indecent images / extreme pornography offences

The offences

There are several offences which can be charged.

Possessing extreme pornography

Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 s 63.

The maximum sentence is 3 years or 2 years where the image in question is not an image which portrays a) an act which threatens a person’s life, or b) an act which results, or is likely to result, in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals.

Indecent images of children

There are several offences involving indecent images of children including:

1)     Criminal Justice Act 1988 s 160 (possession of indecent photographs) – max sentence 5 years

2)     Protection of Children Act 1978 s 1 (taking, distributing, publishing etc. indecent photographs) – max sentence 10 years

3)     Coroners and Justice Act 2009 s 62 (possession of prohibited images of children) – max sentence 3 years

Assessing the material

The material is assessed on a scale of 1-5 as to the severity of the images. This helps the judge decide how serious the offence is and what sentence should be imposed.

The scale runs from 1 to 5 and was established in R v Oliver 2002 EWCA Crim 127.

(1) images depicting erotic posing with no sexual activity;

(2) sexual activity between children, or solo masturbation by a child;

(3) non-penetrative sexual activity between adults and children;

(4) penetrative sexual activity between children and adults;

(5) sadism or bestiality.

Other principles / points of note

Pseudo-images are generally considered to be less serious as real photographs, but they can be just as serious.

92 images at level 4 and 5 is to be considered a large amount (R v Wakeling 2010 EWCA Crim 2210)

Reference should of course be made to the guideline.

Man who set up ‘masturbation station’ near a primary school pleads guilty to child pornography offences

chained computer

 Stephen Conroy, 53, has pleaded guilty to a number of sexual offences including making and possessing indecent images of children and possessing extreme pornography.

The offences

Possessing extreme pornography is an offence under Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 s 63. The maximum sentence is 3 years or 2 years where the image in question is not an image which portrays a) an act which threatens a person’s life, or b) an act which results, or is likely to result, in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals.

 There are several indecent image offences including:

1)     Criminal Justice Act 1988 s 160 (possession of indecent photographs) – max sentence 5 years

2)     Protection of Children Act 1978 s 1 (taking, distributing, publishing etc. indecent photographs) – max sentence 10 years

3)     Coroners and Justice Act 2009 s 62 (possession of prohibited images of children) – max sentence 3 years

It is not clear how many counts, or indeed which section he has pleaded to.

The (scarce) facts

He was found in possession of thousands of printed images, DVDs and videos of child pornography after police searched his home address in February 2013. There was reportedly pornography ‘plastered’ all over the ceilings and walls of three bedrooms. It is understood that some of the images are considered to be level 5 images of child pornography – the highest on the scale.

Additionally, police reportedly found children’s underwear and a school girl’s outfit.

The prosecution, presumably opening the case the judge (telling the judge what the case is about) stated that Mr Conroy had filmed children arriving at and leaving the primary school with which his house is in close proximity.

The prosecutor added: “There was a home-made masturbation device by a window which had a view of the street. In regards to the masturbation station, he admitted that is what he used it for,”.

 “Conroy told officers he thought the children in the images were innocent and beautiful and works of art but probably did not understand what was going on.

“He said he liked children and thought of himself as childlike.”

Conroy told officers he had started looking at child abuse images in 2006 and later searched for “school uniform porn”.


Sentencing was adjourned, reportedly due to the unavailability of certain evidence. This is presumably so the correct basis on which to sentence Mr Conroy can be determined.

We will return to the sentencing when it is reported.

Further details can be found here.

Ex-Police Officer sentenced for making indecent images of children


Christopher Exley, aged 33, was formerly a member of the Met Police in the diplomatic protection squad.

He pleaded guilty to four counts of making indecent images of a child under the age of 18, in December 2012. He was dismissed from the Met earlier this month and was today sentenced at Southwark Crown Court.

HHJ Leonard QC imposed a community order for a period of 3 years, with a programme requirement that he attend an internet sex offender programme. The order will last for 3 years. Additionally, Exley will be subject to a curfew (8pm – 6am) and a supervision requirement for 18 months.

What does this all mean?

Well, the curfew is presumably the punitive element of the sentence. Exley is required to be at a specified address (his home address most likely) between the hours of 8pm and 6am. A breach of this requirement will result in him being returned to court to face further punishment. The curfew may be electronically monitored; in this case, Exley will wear a tag and a Serco or G4S employee will attend the specified address and install the monitoring equipment which alerts the authorities if Exley breaks his curfew.

Supervision; well this can be seen as a bit of a wet blanket as regards punishment. Exley will be required to attend appointments with his responsible officer. This is to ensure that Exley is progressing satisfactorily through his sentence to enable him to continue with his life post-sentence. The legislation (CJA 2003 s 213(2)) suggests the aim is to promote the offender’s rehabilitation.

But the real rehabilitation will come from the sex offender course that Exley is required to attend. Courts can impose programme requirements which require offenders to attend accredited courses which have been recommended to the court as suitable for the particular offender who is before them.

Why not custody?

Well here we are talking about 53 images, which, whilst highly unpleasant, is at the very low end of the scale. Many offenders who plead to this offence (most do plead) have thousands of images on their computers. I read one recent case where the offender had 75,000+ images.

Further, we are not given any information about the seriousness of the images; by that I mean, there is a scale which the courts use to assess the severeity of the images. Levels 1 through 5 are used to categorise the material found, which helps the judge to assess how serious the case is. Level 1 is the least serious and level 5 is the most serious.

Additional factors listed by the judge were that 49 of the images had been deleted. This may suggest that Exley was trying to cover his tracks, it may also suggest that after he had a taste of the material, he decided that he had overstepped the mark. However, without further information, this is purely speculation.

Sentencing remarks

We know that Exley was of previous good character and that the Judge stated that he would get no special treatment because he was formerly a police officer.

The BBC reported that the Judge said:

“Most of the images that were downloaded were only in the form of thumbnails and you did not go further to download the full pictures,”

“They were downloaded or accessed at four separate accounts only, I took that into account.”


The guidelines (presuming this was a Protection of Children Act 1978 s 1/Criminal Justice Act 1988 s 160 case) suggest a starting point of a community order for the possession of a large amount of level 1 material and a small amount of level 2 material. Of course it is possible the material was higher up the scale but that the mitigation (plea etc.) reduced the starting point.

On balance, and with the usual caveat that we don’t have any real specifics, a community order may be about right considering the number of images, the plea and the other mitigation. Exley may feel fortunate that he has escaped custody as former police officers often receive a difficult time in prison. Sex offenders also receive a difficult time in prison. Adding the two together, a non-custodial sentence would seem like the only thing that Exley would have been hoping for.