The Defendant faced 2 Counts of Making and 1 of possessing 26 indecent images of children, contrary to section 1(1)(a) of the Protection of Children Act 1978 and Criminal
Justice Act 1998 – section 160(1) respectively.
The 26 indecent images of children were identified on a Lenovo laptop computer by Police in 2017 and the Prosecution alleged that the images had been created by the deliberate and intentional actions of the Defendant. The presence of the images were also used to support other more serious allegations of sexual offences.
However, the Defendant denied the allegations and a review of the evidence and Prosecution findings was required to determine whether evidence was present to suggest the activity responsible for the storage of them or whether they may have been created inadvertently.
The computer was examined by a computer forensic expert at Athena Forensics in January 2019 and was found to contain over 200,000 files and folders that included over 400,000 static and moving images including the 26 that were identified by the Prosecution as indecent images of children.
The majority of the indecent images of children were identified within unallocated clusters, meaning that they had been ‘live’ at some point within an unknown location on the hard drive and had been deleted.
Another of the indecent images of children were identified within a Google Chrome Internet browsing cache file and had then been stored as part of a bulk backup of files. The investigation allowed for the identification of evidence to suggest that the Google Chrome folder contained 1,500 pornographic images, including only 1 that was identified as being illegal and that the image had been originally stored during the browsing of an almost entirely legal pornographic site.
The remaining indecent images of children were identified within the System Volume Information folder of the computer that was found to contain over 19,000 images that had been automatically stored by Windows and the source of them could not be established.
After disclosure of the computer forensic expert report by Athena Forensics, the Prosecution accepted the findings and then offered no evidence against the Defendant leading to the case being dropped at Crown Court the week before the Trial was due to commence in March 2019.