Febuary 2011

Former Bath magistrate jailed for child porn offences

A former Bath magistrate who exchanged indecent images of young boys over the internet has been jailed for ten months.

Retired civil servant Andrew Hill sent hundreds of pictures of children, some as young as two years old, to other people he had met in online chat groups.

And as well as sending the sickening images, the 61-year-old also took part in “grotesque” conversations outlining what he would like to do to the youngsters in the pictures.

Chris Smyth, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court that police had received a report last June that three of Hill’s email addresses had been used for exchanging such images.

His house in Entry Hill was raided later that month and a laptop and tower computer seized from an upstairs study.

Hill, a stalwart of Bath’s amateur drama world, then quit as a JP.

Although only two indecent pictures of children were found on the computers, officers used specialist software to search the history of what he had sent on the program Google Hello.

There they uncovered 2,374 images – almost all of young boys – which had been sent to other users.

“Accompanying the images was chat about abuse of young boys which was both graphic and obscene,” Mr Smyth said.

One series of images showed a child of two to three years old being abused.

“On occasions the chat goes into grotesque nature of what the two men say they would like to do with these young children,” he said.

In conversation with another user, Hill spoke of having sex with a 12-year-old and asked to trade more images.

Mr Smyth said all the offending took place during a short period in 2007 and that the software used to make the exchanges had not been used since.

When he was questioned by the police, Hill said that the roleplay excited him but that he was ashamed reading back what he had written.

Hill pleaded guilty to eight counts of distributing indecent images of children.

Brendan Moorhouse, defending, said his client had been engaged in a very short piece of offending after he had retired from his job in the Ministry of Defence, which he brought to an end by his own volition.

He said: “What you are dealing with is a man who overstepped the mark and did it in a very stark and clear way; a man who realised that three-and-a-half years ago and stopped. He then endeavoured to delete the images from his machines.”

Mr Moorhouse said his client had been “drawn into a fantasy world” and presented no risk to children in the future.

But Judge Douglas Field banned him from ever working with children and ordered that he register as a sex offender for 10 years.

He told Hill: “You joined chat rooms and communicated with people with a similar interest to you and you thereby exchanged this disgusting chat which I accept was a part of your fantasy but it shows the evil of this sort of behaviour.

“Like-minded perverted people telling each other how much they enjoy the appalling images of these young people being abused.”

Hill was a magistrate in Bath for 17 years, and is a former chairman of the Bath Drama group.

His case was held at the Wiltshire court because of his long career as a JP in Bath.