March 2003

US-based child pornography inquiry nets North-East man

A WORLDWIDE sweep of Internet users buying and downloading child pornography netted an unemployed man in the North-East, a court heard.

David Shepherd, 42, was found to have 381 images downloaded on to his computer – as well as other material – at his former home in Dawdon, County Durham.

Yesterday, Shepherd was jailed for eight months and a Durham Crown Court judge ordered that he must sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years. The court also ordered the confiscation of his computer equipment.

Shepherd was arrested during the follow-up inquiries, last October, and was found to have made transactions going back to September 1999, buying images by credit card from two sites, one called Lolita’s World, for $29.95 each.

The 381 images were stored on his lap-top and desk-top computers, which were seized by investigating officers.

Christopher Dorman O’Gowan, mitigating, said at the time Shepherd was going through the breakdown of his marriage, and the number of images downloaded was “fairly small” compared to some cases of this type.

He said none were for redistribution by Shepherd, and most “were not the worst of their type”.

Shepherd, of previous good character, now of Bethune Avenue, Seaham, admitted 12 charges of making, and four of possessing indecent photographs of a child under 16.

Jailing him, Judge Richard Lowden said: “If it wasn’t for the likes of you wanting to buy these pictures, there would be no shop to sell it.”

He said at least four of the images, “show serious abuse of very young children”.