Pub landlord jailed 109,032 images of child porn

THE former owner of one West Somerset’s most historic inns had so many pornographic pictures and films on his computers that police had to stop counting, a court has heard.

At least 109,032 images of children and 1,077 indecent movies were discovered when officers went to the 12th Century Royal Oak at Winsford with a warrant, Taunton Crown Court was told on Thursday.

When the count got to that figure it was stopped, said Alan Large, prosecuting.

Former computer programmer and IT manager Michael Ashman, 40, whose address was later given by the court as Lilstock, near Williton, and who is married with a daughter, admitted 15 charges of making an indecent photograph of a child and was jailed for 15 months.

He told officers he downloaded images sporadically although it tended to relate to when he was stressed. They were created over nine years and some images were of boys.

When told the number they had found, he said he had no idea there were so many.

Patrick Mason, defending, said Ashman’s life had been completely shattered – not only by the charges but by a series of financial disasters which had left him and his parents desperately trying to keep solvent.

He had suffered five redundancies in the IT industry and got less than expected from the Royal Oak. He also broke up with his family.

“Against that background, he fell back on a strange desire to look at these pictures,” said Mr Mason.

Passing sentence, Judge Stephen O’Malley said: “The message must go out to others that if child pornography is taken off the internet in any significant quantity, the courts will send the offenders to prison.”

Ashman’s guilty plea and other mitigating factors were also taking into consideration.

The judge ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the computer equipment in the case. Ashman was also told to sign the Sex Offenders Register for ten years and was disqualified indefinitely from working with children.

Published in: on December 24, 2007 at 12:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

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