Tag Archives: pornography

Downing Street Police Officer fined for sending pornography to colleagues

Photo from the Daily Mail

Photo from the Daily Mail


One of the casualties of the ‘Plebgate’ affair, but not in the way you may expect, was PC James Addison. His phone was examined as part of the investigation into ‘Plebgate’. No action was taken in relation to that, but it transpired that he had “sent other officers “disgusting and offensive” images that included bizarre sex acts and scenes showing defecation“.

For this, he was prosecuted for 11 offences of Publishing an obscene article under s2 Obscene Publications Act 1959. He was sentenced on 14th May 2014 to a £6,000 fine (and presumably a Victim Surcharge – a healthy £120).


What is the offence?

It’s not a common offence – you will rarely see it in practice. It perhaps shows a level of looking for an offence to prosecute if we’re going to be honest. But anyway –

Whilst ‘publishing’ has connotations of a formal process, in fact someone publishes an article if he “distributes, circulates, sells, lets on hire, gives, or lends it, or who offers it for sale or for letting on hire; or, in the case of an article containing or embodying matter to be looked at or a record, shows, plays or projects it, or, where the matter is data stored electronically, transmits that data“. So that covers it.

An article is obscene if, where there are more than one of them “the effect of any one of its items is, if taken as a whole, such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons“. What were the images? We don’t know, other than that part set out above. We do know that they did not involve “children [or] animals.[he fell to be sentenced] on the basis that there were no obviously unwilling participants in the film“. They were obtained and sent by him for the purposes of amusement (what I believe the kids would call ‘banter’ in fact) rather than out of any other motivation.

By his plea of guilty, Mr Addison accepted that the test was met. It does seem pretty surprising that it would ‘tend to deprave and corrupt’ the other police officers that he sent them to, but as I say, we haven’t see the images.



This is not an offence that is covered by the Sexual Offences Guidelines. It is an either way offence (maximum sentence of 5 years) and is so rare that it is not covered by the Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines. That means we’re pretty much in the dark as to what the proper sentence should be.

We have a factsheet on fines. What we would note is that this seems pretty high. Especially as he will be losing his job with police, it may be that there would be an appeal against this.


Why is this a crime?

Good question. If it’s all photos of a consensual activity involving adults, then it’s hard to see why it is a criminal offence to have such pornography, or indeed send it to anyone else (if they are happy to receive it). The 1959 Act is badly out of date and should probably be repealed. However, if anything, we are getting less and less tolerant of such material (see s18 Criminal Justice and Courts Bill).

Teacher Andrew Pearson jailed for rape of pupil

Andrew Pearson

Photo courtesy of BBC News

Piano teacher Andrew Pearson was sentenced yesterday, 20th August 2013, to an extended sentence of 22 years, combining eighteen years imprisonment and a 4 year extended licence, for the rape and abuse of a pupil.

Pearson, 37, from Bradford, was found guilty of eight offences of rape and six of ‘sexual abuse’ by a jury sitting at Bradford Crown Court. News reports state he was convicted of ‘sexual abuse’ – sexual abuse is not an offence and it is unclear exactly which offences were charged for this element of the offending. It may well be one of the ‘abuse of a position of trust’ offences under Sexual Offences Act 2003 s 16-24.

The facts of the case are sparse, but is had been reported that Pearson started grooming his female victim when she was just eight years old and the abuse continued for four years.

Further reports suggest that the some 74,000 pornographic images and 5,000 videos were found on Pearson’s computers.  Pearson apparently had a fetish for soiled ladies underwear, as discovered by his wife when she found a pair of small pink knickers in his drawer, and pornography on a memory stick.

The Judge is reported to have said: “It was protracted, detailed, repeated abuse on a little girl who could not and did not understand and was ashamed, terrified, afraid to complain, afraid of you.”

Pearson is said to have forced the girl to take her clothes off and watch pornography with him.

Sentencing guidelines for the offences can be found here.  The maximum sentence is one of life imprisonment.  Pearson received an extended sentenceof 22 years, comprising of 18 years custody and 4 years on licence.

This means that the Judge decided that he was ‘dangerous’ within the meaning of the CJA 2003. The test is whether the defendant poses a significant risk of serious harm. On any view these were offences of the utmost seriousness and a finding of dangerousness comes as little surprise.

The aggravating features of the offences are the age of the victim, the length of time over which the offences were committed, as well as the fact that Pearson was in a position of trust.  Given the length of the sentence there may be an appeal; it may be that the assessment of dangerousness is challenged. Without knowing more information about the offences and the offender, it is impossible to assess. However, on the basic facts that have been reported, it seems any appeal may well be unsuccessful.

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.