In late 2017, the Defendant was investigated by Police in relation to another matter. In 2018 he was charged with making 15 indecent images of children, contrary to section 1(1)(a) of the Protection of Children Act 1978 when those images were identified on his mobile phone by Police during that investigation. The Defendant denied deliberately storing the images and a review of the device and the Prosecution evidence was requested by his Solicitor.
The device was examined by a mobile phone forensic expert at Athena Forensics in April 2019 a Samsung Galaxy S6 mobile phone and it was found to contain approximately 43,000 images including the 15 indecent images of children that had been stored on 5 dates during 2017 when web pages containing them had been encountered. Those images had not been manually stored by the user, they had been automatically stored by the Internet browsing software.
No Internet activity was available within the live or deleted areas of the device that related to the point of creation of the indecent images of children so whilst the path taken to access the respective websites could not be audited, the cache files contained sufficient evidence to allow for an assessment of the addresses of the indecent images of children.
It was found that the originating websites had comprised of gallery advertisement style pages that provided links to other pornographic sites and that they were consistent with being ‘pop-up’ advertisements encountered whilst the user browsed adult pornographic websites.
It was also noted that it was not clear whether the 15 indecent images of children identified by the Prosecution had been at the top of those pages and immediately visible to the user or whether they had been further down those pages and only visible id the user had scrolled down the page (even if they had not been displayed, the existence of them on the page would result in them being automatically stored).
It was also found that the Pornhub website had been regularly visited during the available Internet history and that the 15 indecent images of children appeared to have originated from the advertisement area of that site that caused the user to encounter popup adverts whilst they browsed different pages on that website.
Following disclosure of the forensic expert report, the Prosecution agreed with the findings and observations made within it and offered no evidence a few weeks before the case was due to be heard at Trial at Bristol Crown Court in May 2019.