A 37-year old father of two from Co Down was today placed on probation for three years after he admitted possessing 258 indecent images of children.
As part of his probation Michael Stuart Jackson, from Craigarusky Road in Killinchy, will undergo the Internet Sexual Offenders Treatment Programme. In addition, he was made the subject of a five-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order.
Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard that police called at Jackson’s home with a warrant on February 28 last year and that during the course of a search, Jackson’s laptop was seized. When the laptop was forensically tested, a total of 258 indecent images of children were discovered in a file marked ‘Michael’s downloads’. Also present were several extreme pornographic images of bestiality.
Crown prosecutor Rosemary Walsh said that some of the images in the more serious categories included oral sex being performed on a baby by a female adult, and children as young as four being raped and forced to perform oral sex on adult males.
Ms Walsh also revealed that during police interviews, Jackson said he had been looking at over 18 porn websites, but that other images had popped up from websites he would not normally go to. He also admitted that some of these images that “inadvertantly” popped up were of children as young as ten.
The court heard Jackson was interviewed a second time last August, and on this occasion he claimed he had been under the influence of drugs during the first interview and had given “incorrect answers to police.” He did, however, accept he had viewed images of children on the Internet.
It also emerged that both Jackson’s wife and two children has access to the laptop used by him to view and download child porn images. They have since moved overseas.
Jackson - who worked for the family furniture business - subsequently pleaded guilty to seven counts of making indecent photographs of children, two counts of possessing indecent photographs of children and three counts of possessing an extreme pornographic image.
Defence lawyer Darren Duncan told the court that whilst on the surface Jackson had a good family background, there were “issues” between his client and his father. These problems, Mr Duncan said, led to Jackson having “issues about control”, especially concerning his wife and two children.
Regarding the offending, the lawyer said this also came down to control. He said that the pop-up images “intrigued” Jackson, who “acknowledged thereafter that he searched for other images”. Mr Duncan added: “He felt this gave him an element of control in that he could look at whatever he wished.”
Mr Duncan told Judge Geoffrey Miller QC that Jackson looked at these images whilst on legal highs. He also spoke of the “clear implications” his client’s actions have had both on him and his family - adding “he is far from proud at what he had done.”
Passing sentence, Judge Miller said that he accepted Jackson had displayed both a level of victim empathy and also embarrassment and remorse for his actions. He also acknowledged Jackson’s clear criminal record.
However, the Judge told Jackson that by viewing these images, he had “contributed” to the perpetuation of child sexual abuse where youngsters are subjected to acts of violence and depravity.
Placing Jackson under a three year probation order, Jackson was told by Judge Miller: “It is clearly apparent from your background and from the reports I have that programmes that exist are of a necessity for you to fulfil, in order that the underlying deviancy within your character which has led to these offences being committed needs to be addressed.”