February 2022

Army veteran found with stash of indecent child images on laptops

An army veteran was found to have thousands of indecent images and films of children hidden on his home computer.

David Richards, now living in Oswestry’s Hawthorne Close, appeared at Mold Crown Court today (Feb 17) after admitting to having a huge collection of indecent material.

The courts heard the 63-year-old faced his first set of criminal charges with these three offences.

Prosecutor Martyn Walsh told the court how the National Crime Agency were first alerted to Richards’ activity after an email address linked to his Facebook account had shared a sexually indecent image of a child to the internet.

There was an analysis conducted of his IP address which led police to his then home in the Wrexham area where he was arrested on April 29, 2021.

At the time, Richards pointed police officers to a laptop in the living room and also said they would find a second “smashed up” laptop in the basement of his home.

The court heard how they recovered that device from a bin bag and efforts had indeed been made to destroy the computer.

After his arrest, the property was searched and a third laptop was also seized, according to Mr Walsh.

In total, the court heard that after police combed through the devices, it was found that Richards had a total of over 111,000 images “with a range of sexual activity”.

The sample examined by the police was “just a fraction” of his collection, the court heard.

Not all had been fully examined by police, but were noted.

In their sample analysed for the purposes of charging him, officers found over 1,100 images and 44 video clips ranging in severity.

Further examinations also found “years” worth of internet activity on child sexual abuse sites.

When interviewed by police, Richards initially stood with no comment answers before providing a prepared statement in his second interview and confessing to what he had on his computers.

Judge Rhys Rowlands said that these “serious and disturbing offences” only warranted jail.

He added: “These are far from victimless crimes. Each image is of a real child somewhere in this world and these children are being sexually exploited to satisfy the depraved interests of people such as yourself.

“You were accessing this material over a significant period of time – several years in fact.

“Hopefully this will be your first and only prison sentence.”

He imposed a sentence of ten months in jail for the most serious category A images and videos with no additional sentences for the lower category images.

Richards must sign onto the sex offenders register for the next decade and subject to a sexual harm prevention order for the same length of time.

The judge also ordered that all three laptops be destroyed.