Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Anger at lenient child porn term

An eight-month jail sentence handed down to a man who downloaded almost 10,000 images of children being abused has been branded "far too lenient".

At Belfast Crown Court yesterday father-of-one William Fisher (22) received the jail term after he admitted downloading the images, which including scenes of bestiality.

On imposing a five-year sexual offences prevention order (Sopo), Judge Patrick Lynch QC told Fisher by using such images for sexual gratification he was "aiding and abetting the assistance" of the child pornography industry.

Judge Lynch added: "There are victims. There is a victim with every photograph which has been taken and you are assisting an industry that creates victims of young children."

The court heard that police had seized two computers when they searched Fisher's Tates Avenue home in south Belfast on May 27, 2010.

Prosecuting lawyer Jonathan Lowry told the court that officers uncovered 8,052 photographs, including 18 bestiality pictures and 339 movie files, with 21 of those relating to bestiality.

When arrested Fisher admitted downloading the sickening images, initially through a file-sharing website, but then moved on to seek out and download images from sites specifically dedicated to the abuse of children.

He later pleaded guilty to 30 charges of possessing indecent images of children and two further counts of possessing extreme pornography on dates between June 2008 and April 2010.

Defence QC Ciaran Mallon said Fisher was motivated by curiosity, initially seeking out images of girls in their late teens, but added that "clearly the curiosity progressed beyond that". Achieve NI founder Mandy Mc Dermott, a counsellor and a former Britain's Children's Champion award winner, said the eight-month sentence for such a large quantity of abhorrent images was "far too lenient".

She called for tougher sentencing for sex offences relating to children.

"Paedophilia is a despicable crime and sentences need to reflect the horror this crime inflicts on innocent children.

"The question I would ask is, is this eight-month sentence going to deter any paedophile from committing this crime? My opinion is, absolutely not. To be stamped out, paedophiles need to receive punitive sentences which send out a very clear signal."

Since the charges were made public Fisher was sacked from his job with Charles Hurst and his daughter has been put on the social services child protection list.

As part of the five-year Sopo, Judge Lynch barred Fisher from owning or having access to a computer without monitoring software, having unsupervised contact with children, or from working with children. He also ordered him to sign the police sex offenders register.

Ulster Unionist MLA and justice committee member Basil Mc Crea said he understands many people will be very concerned by the sentencing decision, adding: "I will be writing to the Attorney General and the Lord Chief Justice to ask them to make sure the decision was within guidelines."

Background

For many years courts in Northern Ireland have relied upon the guidelines issued by the English Court of Appeal in R v Oliver.

The well established categorisation of indecent material set out in Oliver is now widely used by UK police forces, including the PSNI, to assess increasing seriousness of the material.

The categorisation ranges from one to five, with five the worst material.



Sick haul latest in a string of vile cases

There is a victim with every photograph.

This was the reminder from Judge Patrick Lynch QC to the south Belfast man sentenced to eight months in prison yesterday for downloading horrific images of child sex abuse, some involving bestiality.

William Fisher is just the latest in a disturbing series of custodial sentences handed out for viewing the sickening abuse of children.

Earlier this week Belfast Crown Court heard that a civil servant from Belfast, Barry James Shaw, had more of the worst type of child sex abuse images in his possession - category five - than in any case ever investigated in the UK. The court also heard that Shaw had fantasised that he was the man who abducted Madeleine McCann.

The 31-year-old of Balfour Avenue, who appeared on a 28-count indictment, will be sentenced next month after admitting downloading and distributing images of children being abused.

In October 2011 former primary school caretaker Ernest Logan (61), from Bangor, was jailed for six months for possessing more than 146 indecent images of children, including 11 defined as category four.

He also had a phone that contained more than 900 pictures of unidentified young girls, but these were not deemed to be indecent by the authorities.

Last October one of Northern Ireland's most infamous cyber perverts, who once paid a Thai mother for photographs of her children, was jailed.

Ian Magill (63), from Ballyhornan Road, Downpatrick, was arrested at Heathrow Airport returning from a secret trip to Thailand with a laptop containing graphic images.

In 2007 Magill was handed a two-year jail term for 50 indecent images, including categories four and five.

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