Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Disabled British man has done nothing illegal but police keep his computers

A porn addict found with paedophile images in a massive collection seized by officers in a raid took police to court - in a failed bid to get it all back.

Disabled Anthony Gerrard, 59, downloaded so much adult material it would have taken more than a month of non-stop viewing to watch it all. He also had tens of thousands of photographs - including 11 indecent ones of eight girls and three boys.

Police arrested him three times on suspicion of possessing indecent child photos and seized six PCs and laptops from his home in Knowle, Bristol.

But he escaped prosecution when experts revealed the child images had probably been 'unwittingly' downloaded as the adult porn was automatically sent to his computers.

They said they were found on parts of the computers that four-times married Mr Gerrard could not have accessed without specialist tools or techniques.

Police returned two of the computers - but retained those containing the child pornography.

They took Mr Gerrard to court for the forfeiture and destruction of the hard drives they had kept which had a massive 888GB of adult movies and 2.5GB of adult photos.

A district judge found in the police's favour last July, saying they could not return hard drives containing child porn because they would be distributing illegal material.

Mr Gerrard appealed, claiming they could delete or transfer the child images and return his huge stash of adult pornography.

The former lorry driver claimed: 'I'm not interested in child porn. I don't think it's fair they are keeping my computers when I haven't done anything illegal.

'I paid £40 for a month's subscription to a website and I was downloading films from it day and night. I wanted to get my money's worth. 'They cost me a couple of thousand pounds in total. Every time the police took two computers away, I would buy another two.'

Mr Gerrard, who is estranged from his son, added: 'The good thing about having a computer is you can switch it off when you've finished - you can't switch off a wife.'

But his appeal was rejected by Judge Julian Lambert, sitting with magistrates Simon Brookes and Chris Barke, who said the police were entitled to keep the computers.

They said there was no foolproof way of deleting the offending material from the computers before returning them. And the law states that if it is not 'practicable' to do that the item should be forfeited to the police.

Digital evidence recovery officer Scott Eggins told the court: 'Deletion in a computer sense is a very complicated matter. 'There is no such thing as a permanent deletion on computers unfortunately - or fortunately. 'There is no way of permanently deleting it, short of putting it through a shredder.'

PC Ben Jefferies, who arrested Mr Gerrard, said: 'The vast proportion of images that were recovered from Mr Gerrard's PC were adult in nature. The pornography that he had searched for was all adult. 'The 11 (child pornography) images had been downloaded unwittingly, probably.'

The police also said that because of the sheer volume of legal porn possessed by Mr. Gerrard it would take days to transfer it to an external hard drive. That would cost up to £100 per new drive, plus police time, and Mr Gerrard had refused to pay for that.

Judge Lambert said: 'We see no way, on the evidence in front of us, that the hard drives could be returned to the appellant with the images deleted so that they cannot be recovered.'

Mr. Gerrard, who said he only had £100 in savings, was ordered to pay £1,533 costs.

After the case he said: 'If they had just been able to delete the images and give me my computers back it would've saved a lot of court time and money. 'I'm gutted, but I've had my day in court and I thought the judge was very fair.'

He said he was paralysed after breaking his neck in an accident at home but has now recovered enough to walk with a stick.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

No comments: