Background to the Indecent Image Case
The Prosecution alleged that the Defendant had deliberately and intentionally downloaded 308 indecent images of children onto 2 hard drives within his home computer.
The instructions were received from the Solicitor’s to conduct a review of the Police digital forensic evidence as the Defendant denied that he had knowingly caused the creation of those images, though he did admit to downloading legal adult material.
A week before the Trial at Kingston Crown Court was due to start, the evidence was received from the Police.
The Review and Assessment of the Prosecution Evidence
The evidence was examined and it was confirmed that the images were identified on 2 of the hard drives within the computer tower that contained a total of 4 hard drives.
One of the hard drives was found to contain nearly 40,000 accessible and legal pornographic images within a folder named ‘Sort’ as well as 35 that were identified by the Police as illegal indecent images of children.
It was discovered that most of the 40,000 images had been copied to that hard drive at the same time as a group of files and that, as there were so many images copied at the same time, the user was unlikely to have been aware that 35 of them (less than 1%) were illegal.
No evidence had been identified to suggest that any of the unlawful images had been manually accessed by the user and 32 of the images were found to have been originally stored prior to the introduction of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, meaning that the age of the individuals needed to be under 16 years of age rather than 18 as had been charged.
The deleted areas of the same hard drive also contained a large number of images with 232 of those images identified by the Prosecution as being indecent images of children.
It was noted that those images were not time or dated and no file names were available meaning that it was not possible to say when or how they had been created or deleted or whether they had been stored deliberately by the Defendant.
The second hard drive was found to contain the operating system of the computer with 1 user profile that needed a password to access it.
The live and deleted areas of the hard drive was found to contain just under 42 images that were alleged by the Prosecution to consist of indecent images of children.
The images were reviewed and were found to be located within system files and folders and inaccessible to the normal user.
The eMule application was installed on the computer and the Prosecution identified evidence to suggest that 75 of the files downloaded using it had contained the term ‘lolita’.
This evidence was review by Athena Forensics and it was noted that 35 of those files were still on the computer and none had been identified by the Police as being illegal despite the term within their file name. The remainder had been deleted and the content could not be determined.
It was also confirmed that the presence of the term ‘lolita’ within the file names of those files does not necessarily indicate that the user had conducted searches for that term.
Result of the Examination Report – Indecent Image Case Dropped
A joint expert agreement was produced by Athena Forensics in respect of the evidence in the case and taken to Kingston Crown Court for the start of the Trial.
On the morning, the Prosecution expert reviewed that agreement and confirmed that they agreed with the content of it.
Whilst the Prosecution wished to continue with the case, even in light of the report and agreement, the Judge requested that they take further instruction on the case given the evidence that was now before the Court.
After an adjournment the hearing continued and the Prosecution confirmed that they were offering no evidence against the Defendant, of no previous convictions, and the case was then dropped against him and the Judge then allowed him to leave the court.
About Athena Forensics
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