Child porn cases may face collapse
Source: Leeds Today
by Ian Rosser
Date: August 29, 2003
CHILD porn cases in West Yorkshire could be reviewed after doubts were raised about evidence from a leading prosecution expert.
Over the last 15 months, dozens of people across the county have been arrested and accused of paedophile offences as part of Operation Ore.
The campaign has seen defendants including teachers, social workers and businessmen either jailed or fined and put on the sex offenders' register after they admitted paying for and downloading child porn from the internet. But now calls have made for many of the cases to be reviewed following the collapse last week of the case against Soham detective Brian Stevens, who was accused of possessing and distributing child porn and indecently assaulting two girls.
The case collapsed because of flawed evidence from one of the star witnesses, Brian Underhill. The traffic police officer turned computer crime expert has been involved in more than 600 of the 1,600 prosecutions brought by UK police as part of Operation Ore. In total his firm, Celt Limited, has dealt with 1,022 cases including those brought by West Yorkshire Police.
Following the collapse of the case, computer experts have demanded a review of all cases involving Mr Underhill, which could lead to appeals from people convicted on his evidence. Jim Bates, president of the Institute of Analysts and Programmers, said: "Any solicitor worth their salt will be looking to see if they can get the case thrown out simply because he (Mr Underhill) is listed as the expert witness."
When Operation Ore was launched last year, it was estimated that the names of 7,000 suspected paedophiles Brits were among those unearthed as part of an FBI investigation. One of the first men in the UK to be prosecuted was West Yorkshire social worker Martin Fleming, 41, who changed his name by deed poll from Mark McQuaid after his arrest.
He admitted 20 charges of possessing indecent photographs of children as young as three and was fined ?500. Others convicted include teacher William Chilton, 53, from near Selby, who was sentenced to four months in jail for downloading child porn from the Internet.
Original article at: http://www.leedstoday.net
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