November 2009

John Kirkpatrick admitted becoming obsessed with images of abuse

HORRIFIC images of abuse, involving children as young as 18 months, were found on the home computer of “loner” John Kirkpatrick.

The 52-year-old, described as otherwise, “a thoroughly decent man”, admitted becoming more and more obsessed with such images.

Durham Crown Court heard that he compiled a collection of 21,701 stills and 1,658 moving clips, downloaded from the internet over a nine-year period.

The former gardener, who the court was told was unlikely to ever form a relationship with any woman, was yesterday jailed for a year.

Mark Giuliani, prosecuting, said that when police visited his home to examine the contents of his computer, on January 15, Kirkpatrick told them: “Oh, you’ve caught me.”

He told officers he began looking for adult pornography on the internet, but a child image “popped up” and his interest developed.

Mr Giuliani added: “He described being fascinated by the images and thrilled by the illegality, leading to him searching for more and more vile images and storing them.”

Kirkpatrick, of Railway Cottages, Croxdale, admitted 16 counts of downloading indecent images of children and one of possession of such material.

Warren Grier, mitigating, said: “He’s a man of previous good character who is deeply remorseful. He’s appalled at his behaviour over these nine years and feels he got drawn into it to such an extent it became a habit.

“On a number of occasions he attempted to turn himself in to police because he knew what he was doing was wrong.

“Since his arrest in January, it’s been like a great weight has been lifted from him, although he has sought medication for depression.”

Jailing him, Judge Christopher Prince told Kirkpatrick: “You’re described as a thoroughly decent man in every other respect of your life, but there’s no doubt you cut a sad and lonely figure.”

The judge said Kirkpatrick did not appear the sort of man who could form a “meaningful relationship” with women, and accepted he began using the internet for adult pornography.

“But, slowly and surely you began looking at greatly more deviant material,” he said.

Judge Prince described some of the offending images as “distressing” and said anyone looking at them was “contributing in a small way” to the abuse of the children.

Kirkpatrick was banned from working or having unsupervised contact with children and given a sexual offences’ prevention order preventing him owning a lap-top or personal computer for life.

He was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for ten years.