Bamber Bridge man avoids immediate jail term over extreme animal image haul as court told they were already on a second hand computer he had bought

Crown Court
Crown Court

A man who was arrested after 236 extreme pornographic videos and images of animals were found on his computer has had his six month jail term suspended for 18 months.

Wayne Hughes, 55, of School Field, Bamber Bridge, Preston, told the authorities the images were already on a hard drive that he had bought second hand.

Preston Crown Court was told three 'carved images' - pictures that have been deleted but can be recovered forensically by the authorities - were on the same hard drive, and involved children - but charges in relation to those have been formally dropped by the courts as it is accepted Hughes has no involvement in them.

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Prosecutors accepted there was no evidence he had tried to access the images or that he even knew about them, as there is no way to attribute when carved images have been viewed or downloaded.

However he admitted a charge of possessing extreme pornographic images animals between January 2012 and June 2017 after it was accepted he failed to delete them.

Prosecuting, Stephen Parker said on June 26, 2017, police officers attended at his home acting on information they had received, and seized a "significant amount" of computer equipment, including hard drives and USB sticks.

"The defendant wasn't present. He was subsequently arrested at his workplace.

"Exhibits from a computer tower and USB sticks were recovered - all bar two are videos rather than photographs.

"They have been moved from one device to another so however they came to have been there, it's clear he looked at them and moved them from A to B."

The defendant said the images, which involve adult women and animals, were already on the hard drive when he bought it, but he accepted accessing them and moving them to a USB stick.

Defending, Daniel Prowse said his client had been depressed and suicidal since the images came to light, two years ago.

He added: "He accepts he became aware of the images on the second hard drive which he bought.

"The images were not downloaded by him. But there was movement between the hard drive and a USB stick, and he didn't take steps to delete them.

"It is an unusual case."

The court heard his last conviction was in 1996 but he had no similar offences on his record.

Judge Andrew Jefferies QC accepted there was no evidence he had sought them out but that his criminal act was moving and retaining possession of them.

He said: " These are pretty horrible images and I wouldn't have hesitated in imposing an immediate custodial sentence, but given the period the indictment covers - the arrest was 2017 - the delay is not his fault.

"There's no suggestion of similar behaviour in the interim and given his lack of convictions for the last two decades I'm minded to suspend his sentence.

"If people didn't look at and possess this material then in an ideal world people would stop making it."