July 2009

Dad-of-two had child abuse films on his computer

A COLCHESTER man has been jailed for owning more than 100 indecent films of children.

Police became aware of the movies on Stephen Maclean’s hard drive after a tip-off from a user of file-sharing site BearShare last February.

The 29-year-old’s computer was seized from the Timber Hill home he shared with his wife – who was pregnant at the time – and their two children.

Investigations showed there were 101 movies on the hard drive, including six at the highest level of indecency – involving sadism and bestiality – and 74 at the second, involving sexual activity between children and adults.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard Maclean had admitted downloading indecent films of children since 2000.

Paul Baker, mitigating, said the activity coincided with his giving evidence against a man who had allegedly abused him for a year from the age of 11.

That case had fallen apart on a technicality, and he had been left demoralised, depressed and “left to fend for himself”.

He said around the same time, Maclean was searching for legal movies when he came across the indecent films, which he found he was aroused by, in particular children aged between 11 and 12.

Mr Baker said: “He was disgusted by his behaviour and deleted the films, but then downloaded them again when he got more depressed.

“He did not know other people could access them from the file-sharing site.

“Mr Maclean is of previous good character and is not likely to carry the fantasy into reality.

“He is still coming to terms with what he did.”

Mr Baker also told Judge Anthony Goldstaub that Maclean had lost his job as an after-hours cleaner at a children’s nursery after his arrest, as well as a subsequent position at a burger restaurant.

He had also left the family home and moved into rented accommodation in St Alban’s Road, with only limited supervised contact with his children.

Sentencing, the judge gave Maclean a six-month prison sentence, with three to be served inside and three on licence, while his computer hard drive would be destroyed.

He said: “Offences of this kind are very serious – if people like you didn’t watch these films, the children would not be abused.

“I have taken your guilty plea into account, along with the catastrophic effect it has had on your family.

“The consequence of your actions will continue to reverberate. I hope you will get help when you come out of prison.”

Maclean was placed on the barred list of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act, and ordered to remain on the sex offenders’ register for ten years.

A sex offenders’ protection order was issued, limiting unsupervised contact with under 16s who are not his own children.