Former prison officer spared jail after police found hundreds of child porn images at his Milton Keynes home

A former prison officer from Milton Keynes has been spared jail for possessing hundreds of child porn images which he started downloading after he had to stop work due to ill-health.

Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 4:45 pm

Leslie Coppock had been involved in hostage negotiation scenarios as part of his role working in the prison service, a judge was told.

The 63-year-old, who struggled into court supporting himself with one crutch clasped in his right hand, had started visiting online adult chat rooms where he downloaded child porn images shortly after quitting work for medical reasons.

Prosecuting, Jacinta Stringer said: “Police effectively visited this defendant as a result of an inquiry that flagged up that somebody was using the username ST3P to download a category C image of a child on December 5 2016.

The judge gave a suspended sentence

Police executed a warrant at Coppock's flat in Bridge Hook Close, Wolverton Mill, in February last year. A number of items were seized including his laptop computer, which was subsequently analysed.

Ms Stringer said: "He took part in a voluntary interview, confirmed it was his laptop, accepted he visited adult chatrooms, stated that during conversations others in those chatrooms would send files to each other and to view those images they have to be downloaded and if it was an image he did not want to see he would delete it immediately.”

The prosecutor said files found on the system, which had been deleted, included 177 category A images - the most severe kind which showed serious sexual abuse of children - and hundreds of category B and C images.

In addition, Ms Stringer revealed software capable of masking a user’s online activity were found on Coppock’s computer.

Defending Coppock, James Lofthouse said: “He was himself not seeking out indecent images of children. Quite frankly those who have a real interest in this over a number of years, the images do not just run into the thousands, they run into the tens of thousands.

“He was quite happy to look at what he expected to be pornography but not this type of pornography and when he found it he deleted it. There was absolutely no evidence of him entering search terms seeking out particular sites.”

Mr Recorder Simon Taylor QC, sitting at Aylesbury Crown Court, questioned how Coppock could claim he had no interest in children when he had admitted in police interview that he found some images of children "arousing."

Mr Lofthouse said: “His candour in interview perhaps indicates that he is becoming more reflective and able to accept a little more that he has a problem here. He is moving in the right direction to address what he had allowed to be a problem over a number of years.

“He had clearly worked in a difficult and stressful job as a public servant for a long period of time until, in fact for medical reasons, he was no longer able to do that job. The breakdown of that job led to him being in these chatrooms. That ill-health has now worsened since he put himself in this position.”

The lawyer added that Coppock, who had no previous convictions, lived on a £1,000-a-month pension from his work in the prison service.

Mr Recorder Taylor, sentencing, said: “These are serious offences. They are real children suffering, really suffering behind the offending you have committed and as someone who downloads images you are part of their suffering.

“I think you are beginning to realise that. Nonetheless, considering the seriousness of the offence, the type of images you have downloaded and the period over which you downloaded them, it seems to me quite clearly the custody threshold is passed by the offending you have committed.

“There is a genuine recognition on your part of the gravity of the offending. I also take into account your career in a difficult profession which was to the benefit of society. You can now bank your good character for a long-term tole in a profession that we all need to be carried out.”

Mr Recorder Taylor gave Coppock a six month sentence, suspended for 18 months, to include 35 days rehabilitation activity requirement, ordered he pay £670 in costs and made him subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order with a seven-year notification requirement.