March 2009

Child abuse images found on ex-policeman’s phone



An award-winning police inspector who protected Margaret Thatcher when she was Prime Minister in the 1980s has been jailed for 12 months after being caught with indecent images of children on mobile phones, and for sending the abusive pictures to other pereverts

Thomas Simmons’s dark secret was discovered through him using a text chat service in which he sent messages looking for sex with children. When arrested, he admitted fantasising about abusing children as young as nine.

Simmons, known as Pete, of Kingsnorth Gardens, Folkestone, served in special branch at Dover docks before moving to CID and the regional crime squad in Canterbury.

He was a uniformed sergeant, then a detective sergeant and at one point an acting inspector. He was awarded commendations by the chief constable and area commander.

After leaving the force, he worked at Dover District Council as a benefit fraud investigator until retirement.

Simmons, 61, admitted seven charges of making indecent images of children, three of distributing them and an offence under the Telecommunications Act.

Maidstone Crown Court heard police found 50 images, including two video clips, ranging from levels one to four, the highest level being five, on his mobile phones.

Judge Charles Macdonald, QC, rejected a submission Simmons should receive a suspended sentence, telling him: “Suspension is out of the question. You require exceptional mitigation, which is not present here.”

Det Insp Paul Fotheringham, of Kent Police’s Public Protection Crime Unit, said afterwards: “Downloading images of children being subjected to real time abuse is as severe an offence as the real time abuse those children are suffering.”