September 2007

Langham sentenced over child porn

Actor Chris Langham has been jailed for 10 months for downloading indecent videos of children from the internet.

The Bafta-winning star of comedy dramas Help and The Thick Of It wept as he was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court.

He was convicted last month on 15 charges. Some of the videos accessed by Langham, 58, of Golford, Kent, showed the most “horrific level” of abuse.

Langham will serve five months in prison, less the 43 days he has spent in custody already.

One of the victims was about eight years old and others were aged between 11 and 13, according to Judge Philip Statman.

 He told Langham: “Some of the children viewed are clearly prepubescent, others are fully developed, some of the children are clearly of Filipino extract.

“All have had inflicted upon them horrifying sexual abuse and, I want to make this absolutely clear to you, I must first think of those children. They are too young to consent.”

He added: “Your activity took place in the comfort of your own home, no doubt at the time feeling safe in the knowledge that you would never be caught.”

He was arrested in November 2005 after video files were found on a computer, a laptop and an external hard disk drive at his home.

During his trial at Maidstone Crown Court Langham admitted viewing them but pleaded not guilty because he did not want to be labelled a paedophile.

They were downloaded between September and November 2005 and Langham claimed in police interviews and during the trial that he was researching a character he was developing for Help.

‘Abusive situations’

Det Ch Insp Paul Fotheringham said: “Fifteen [images] is reasonably low to be honest, most police forces have probably had cases where they’ve had people with hundreds of thousands of images.

“The worst video was 15 minutes long and it showed in quite graphic detail the sadistic brutalisation of an eight-year-old girl in the UK, with some serious sexual offences against her.”

He added: “There is no excuse for downloading and viewing images of child sex abuse.

“The video clips found on Christopher Langham’s computer were a high quality reproduction of real children in real abusive situations.

“Paedophiles viewing images creates a demand which encourages others to continue abusing and hurting children.

“It is important for everyone to realise that these images are real abusive situations involving children from across the world including Kent.”

In a statement read out in court, Langham’s wife Chrisse said: “I was shocked at the charges he was facing.

“We talked at length about them. I was angry at his stupidity and thoughtlessness, no-one is more able to punish themselves than Chris so I knew there was no more for me to do in that area.

“My children miss him desperately. When I ask the children what they think about their father all they say is that he would not hurt anyone.

“Our family has suffered so much in the last two years. We now need the chance to be together.”

The actor was cleared of charges of indecently assaulting an underage girl as well as two counts of a serious sexual offence.