July 2010

Pervert surgeon gets community service for child porn offences

A doctor who was found guilty of downloading child pornography on his computer has been given community service.

Douglas Harris, 29, trawled through well-known paedophile sites after working shifts as a surgeon at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

Police found 371 indecent images of young girls along with indecent chat room conversations when they raided his city flat.

The doctor denied the allegations when he went on trial last week claiming he was working when the pictures were downloaded. Instead he blamed his girlfriend for the crime.

But a jury heard the surgeon used sophisticated software to scramble the dates and times documents were created on his computer. They took just over an hour to find him guilty by a unanimous verdict following an eight-day trial at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

On Tuesday, Sheriff Annella Cowan adjourned Aberdeen Sheriff Court for 15 minutes after being shown some of the images because she found them “distressing and unpleasant”.

She said: “In reaching a view on sentence, I have to put aside subjective reactions to the images found on your computer

“Considering the guidance available to me, the majority of images are classified at the lowest level, level one being erotic posing. Only a few involved adults and/or penetrative sexual activity. Any custodial sentence would be relatively short and would not address your behaviour.

“A community based sentence will have a greater punishment, deterrence and restorative effect.”

She ordered him to carry out three years of probation and 280 hours of community service.

During the trial, forensic experts said Harris had used a “window washer” programme to delete or change the dates of downloaded pictures. They also recovered a receipt for a disk scrubber from his pocket when he was arrested in December 2006.

But the doctor insisted he was innocent and continued to blame his live-in partner Maria Carle, 29, for the offences, despite police recovering one snap which was downloaded a year before the couple met.

Harris was found guilty of being in possession of 371 indecent pictures of children at his Laburnum Walk flat on December 12 2006. He was also found guilty by a unanimous verdict of making or permitting 243 pornographic pictures of youngsters to be taken between 2004 and 2006.

On Tuesday his lawyer, Andrew Mason, said he could give no information on the circumstances of the offence.

But he said: “Mr Harris has been convicted of a very serious offence. It is perhaps one of the most regrettable features that any dreams Mr Harris had of becoming a surgeon he appreciates are now lost to him.”

He said his client wished for the sheriff to know that his partner was being treated for suspected leukemia.

Harris looked relieved after he was sentenced. He was ordered to join the sex offenders register for three years.