December 2022

Dunkeswell man guilty of having child sex images on phone

A former soldier from Dunkeswell has been found guilty of downloading child abuse images which were  found on his phone and iPad during a police raid.

Esmond Collins told a jury at Exeter Crown Court that he had never searched for or looked at the images and had no idea how they got onto his devices.

He said someone else who knew his log-in details may have viewed the images on the internet and they had unwittingly been transferred onto his hardware.

He was found guilty after a prosecution computer expert gave evidence that it was extremely unlikely that search terms including Lolita got on the phone from a cloud-based app.

Collins, aged 51, of Blossom Close, Dunkeswell, denied three counts of making, by downloading, indecent images of children, but was found guilty by a jury at Exeter Crown Court.

Judge Anna Richardson ordered him to sign on the sex offenders’ register and asked the probation service to prepare a pre-sentence report. She said all options will remain open when he returns to court next month.

During a three day trial, Mr Rowan Jenkins, prosecuting, said the case arose out of a police raid at Collins’s home on Tuesday October 27, 2020, in which two  devices were seized.

They were analysed and images and search terms were found. Some of the images were in a DCIM folder which only existed on the phone and was not connected to any cloud storage.

He said the devices were password protected and had been used to search the internet for key words including Lolita and other terms which suggested an interest in child images.

Experts recovered 108 images on a mobile phone, of which 44 were at the highest level, depicting penetrative activity with children, and 123 on the iPad of which 30 came into category A.

Collins said he was a former corporal in the army who had served in Cyprus and the first Gulf War. 

He said he has no sexual interest in children, has never searched for or downloaded child images and could not explain how they got onto his phone and tablet.