Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Man had 89 child porn downloads

A PERVERT who downloaded dozens of sickening child porn photos on his British Airways works computer was jailed for eight months yesterday after he agreed to spend a further year on probation.

Handing down the jail term and ordering that 28-year-old Michael Francis Lavelle signs the police sex offenders' register for the next 10 years, Belfast Crown Court Judge Tom Burgess said technological advances have improved detection rates.

Handing down the jail term and ordering that 28-year-old Michael Francis Lavelle signs the police sex offenders' register for the next 10 years, Belfast Crown Court Judge Tom Burgess said technological advances have improved detection rates.

And he warned others: "If you look at these sorts of images then you will see the inside of a prison cell".

Earlier he had heard that BA internal investigations into Lavelle's misuse of the computer system and how he accessed restricted material began in 2001 and ended with his resignation in August 2003.

Prosecuting lawyer Sheena Mehaffy told the court that when his desk top computer was sent to England for examination, technicians uncovered a total of 89 indecent images in the "personal space" which could only be accessed by using an employee number.

The machine was sent back to the computer crime unit at Knocknagoney, which confirmed the presence of the sickening photos.

The lawyer told the court "other items" were seized when officers raided Lavelle's home.

Ms Mehaffy said that during police questioning, Lavelle, from Corrina Park in Belfast, spoke only to confirm his name and refused to answer any further questions.

However, he later pleaded guilty to 18 specimen charges of making indecent photos of children between March 17 and May 5 2003.

The court heard that within the 18 images on the indictment, seven were in category one, two in category two, four in category three and five in category four, although there were none in the most serious category five.

Defence lawyer Dennis Boyd said Lavelle was "totally ashamed of his behaviour" and was not just remorseful but "realises the harm it causes to the child victims who are forced to participate in this dreadful behaviour".

The lawyer revealed that Lavelle himself had suffered an "unhappy childhood" but added that from the reports compiled on him, "he does not represent a high risk of harm at all".

In his sentencing remarks, Judge Burgess said there had been a "regrettable" delay in bringing Lavelle's prosecution to court.

And added: "The children I saw in the images will have this hanging over their heads for a very long time to come."

The judge revealed that within the images he saw, some included children "who cannot be more than about six" being abused.

Judge Burgess added that "they display most perfectly the pain and distress caused to these children".

Commenting on the need to protect children and deter others, Judge Burgess told the court: "It may be that our powers of sentencing have some impact on this burgeoning trade, but those who do download images such as these should know that technology makes them easier to find and public prosecutions will expose them to public shame - prison terms are justly deserved."

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