Gloucestershire man had 1,900 indecent images of children on work computer
A 61-year-old engineer has avoided prison after being found with more than 1,900 indecent images of children on his work computer.
At Gloucester Crown Court on Thursday, prosecutor Joe Broadway said Alistaire Watson of Hiltmead Lane, Moreton Valencia was at the time of the offenses a test engineer working in Cheltenham for Spirax Sarco.
Like many, he had to work from home during the pandemic from March 2020.
Mr Broadway said: “On March 31, 2020, the Spirax Sarco Human Resources Manager received a notification that there had been a breach of company policy involving a work computer used by Watson at his residence.
“The breach involved the use of banned pornographic search terms. When Watson was questioned, he said he was the only person who could access his computer and admitted that he had entered inappropriate search terms and that he had viewed images of child pornography.
“Watson’s computers were then analyzed and this ultimately resulted in his dismissal.
“The internal investigation was then entrusted to the police and indecent images of children were found on three devices, a computer, an external hard drive and his phone.
“In total, there were 11 category A images, the most extreme, and a video; 29 category B images and 1,869 category C images. In addition, there were 93 prohibited images and one extreme pornographic image.
“The majority of the images involved pre-pubescent children, with the most serious being the Category A images which featured children between the ages of two and ten involved in penetration.”
Ylenia Rosso, defending, said Watson was “not your typical offender” as he had since shown great remorse.
She added: “Watson accepts having contributed to the request for these images. He pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. He is unlikely to return to a desk job and started driving for a living.
“Watson states that he was bullied by his wife throughout his marriage and that he wanted to get away from his home, his wife and his job and sought solace in the dark world of internet. He desperately needs professional support.”
Judge Lawrie told Watson “I have read the descriptions of the images you have viewed and it is deeply disturbing.”
Watson said in response, “At the time, I was struggling to do my job. I had mental blocks all the time and slipped to the dark side. I put in a search term on the internet and other related topics came up which I then looked into.
Sentencing Watson, Judge Lawrie said: ‘I am unable to establish how you came to view this material. But your actions encourage the market for these indecent and appalling images.
“This conviction could render you unemployable in your field of specialty, which is a shame. You are a man of great talent and skill as an engineer.
“Your offense crosses the threshold of detention, but I think a 24-month community order is more appropriate as it will allow you to seek professional help.”
The judge also ordered Watson to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and attend 40 days of rehabilitative activities requirement.
Watson was also subject to the terms of a five-year sexual abuse prevention order and he will have to sign the sex offender register for the same period.
The judge ordered the deprivation of computer and telephone equipment and the payment of court costs of £425 and a victim fine surcharge of £90.