Police officer caught with almost 1,500 indecent images
A Merseyside police officer was caught with a collection of almost 1,500 indecent images of children.
Darren Wright, who admitted downloading and sharing pictures of child pornography, walked free from court on Monday, January 8 after a judge heard that he suffered mental health problems after twice fighting leukaemia.
Liverpool Crown Court was told that 38-year-old Wright, who was sacked in October from the job he loved, had amassed the collection over a two year period.
Robert Jones, prosecuting, said that when police officers raided the Southport house Wright shares with his parents, on June 9 last year, he was anxious to retain some medical appointments from his mobile phone and police said there was no difficulty in him doing so, provided it was under supervision.
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“The defendant appeared to be acting rather furtively with his iPhone. In fact what he was trying to do was delete some chat conversations. Those chat conversations were nothing to do with indecent images, but the police did not know that at the time,” said Mr Jones.
Police seized his phone plus a HP laptop hard drive and USB stick, which Wright said only he used. When the equipment was analysed the images were found to involve 23 in the most serious category, 26 in the next most serious group and 1,368 in the least serious category.
Mr Jones said, “One of those is notably a very, very young child indeed.”
He said Wright was “candid” with police during interviews and admitted sharing some of the least serious images.
The court heard that the defendant did not have any previous convictions and had “exemplary conduct within the police force”.
Wright was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, went into remission, but relapsed in 2013, before again going into remission.
He pleaded guilty to five offences involving downloading indecent images, distributing some and possession between July 1, 2015 and June 10 this year.
Defence barrister James Hamilton, said Wright’s health difficulties had “a significant impact upon the reason why he offended.”
Wright had mental health problems and has since received counselling to address his behaviour. He posed little future risk in the community and urged the judge not to jail him.
Judge Denis Watson, QC, said Wright made a positive contribution to society but developed mental health issues after two bouts of cancer.
“You reached a state of considerable isolation after your second course of chemotherapy and other treatments from 2015 onwards. It was in that position of isolation in which you found yourself that this offending was committed.”
He sentenced him to six months imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered him to carry out 35 days rehabilitation activities.
“Had you committed these offences in the course of your work as a police officer or used your position as a police officer to facilitate any of these offences, there could only have been an immediate custodial sentence.”
The judge ordered him to sign the Sex Offenders Register for seven years and imposed a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for the same length of time.
Merseyside Police’s professional standards department previously said it fired Wright following a formal misconduct hearing, which he failed to attend.
Detective Chief Superintendent Karen Cummings said: “We simply cannot afford to have police officers and support staff working for us who do not strive to uphold the highest levels of professionalism and integrity at all times.”