PCD Solicitors were instructed to represent a 23 year old male arrested on suspicion of making and possessing indecent images of children. Following a 7 month investigation our client received a caution for the possession of 577 prohibited images of children.
On 23/04/2020 the National Crime Agency (NCA) were alerted to the uploading of one prohibited image of a child to the internet, the email address used to upload this image was linked to our client. The NCA further identified that the IP address resolved to our clients address.
On 20/07/2021 the police attended our clients home address and executed a search warrant in accordance with section 8 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. This is due to the information they had received from the NCA. Following the seizure of multiple devices a forensic examination took place. After 7 months of waiting our client was invited to attend a voluntary interview at the police station as a result of the findings from the forensic examination.
Prior to attending the police station pre-interview disclosure was obtained. We were able to consider this, explain it to our client and advise him on the law and interview procedure.
The law which applies to our clients case was section 62 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.
A prohibited image is a non-photographic image such as, a computer generated image, cartoon, Magna image or drawing, which are pornographic in nature, focuses solely or principally on a child’s genitals or anal region or contains the following acts:
1. an act of intercourse or oral sex with or in the presence of a child;
2. An act of masturbation by, of involving, or in the presence of a child;
3. An act which involves penetration of the vagina or anus of a child with part of a person’s body or with anything else;
4. An act of penetration, in the presence of a child, of the vagina or anus of a child with a part of the person’s body or with anything else;
5. The performance by a child of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead, alive or imaginary);
6. Performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead, alive or imaginary)
The offence is triable either-way which means it can be dealt with by the magistrates court or the crown court. What determines where an either-way offences is heard is the seriousness of the offence, complexities that may arise during a trial and, whether the magistrates have the jurisdiction and sentencing powers to deal with the matter.
A police investigation for such offences can continue for a considerable amount of time. At the conclusion of the investigation the police will seek a Crown Prosecutor’s advice as to whether a person should be charged with an offence.
Our client attended the interview and gave a no comment response to all questions. This advice was given after full consideration of the evidence in the case and a discussion with the client. It is important before making any decision as to how to answer questions in a police interview, that an interviewee seeks legal advice. It is not always in a persons best interests to respond by way of a no comment in an interview.
At the conclusion of the interview our client’s representative suggested to the police that a caution may be suitable in this case and asked whether the officers were willing to consider this.
For a caution to be issued, there must be full acceptance of the alleged offence. It was therefore important that the client was aware of his options and any acceptance of the allegations was put to the police as soon as possible.
Possession of prohibited images of children carries a maximum sentence of 3 years imprisonment. Where an offender is sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 2 years or more the notification requirements of the sex offenders register apply. It is likely that Sexual Harm Prevention Order would also be put in place where a person is convicted at court. Our client was provided with his options in this case, advised on the strength of the evidence against him, advised on the sentencing guidelines and all potential outcomes.
Damage limitation was imperative being such a young age, preventing our client becoming a registered sex offender and having prohibitions placed on him was in his best interests, particularly in light of the strength of the police evidence at this stage of the case.
Our lawyers worked hard to prepare an admission statement with the client and this was provided to the officer in charge. Within one week the officer offered a conditional caution to our client which was gladly accepted.
A caution will lie on our clients police file for a period of six years and is likely to show on any future Data Barring Service checks. Should our client apply for a job working with children or vulnerable adults a caution for this offence could prevent him from employment in these types of roles. However, it was established very early on that our client had no intention to seek such employment.
This case goes to show the importance of the correct advice and representation at the police station. What a suspect does and says at this stage of their case can prevent a prosecution. If you, a friend or family member is currently under police investigation or has been invited to attend a police interview please contact our specialist lawyers for a free initial consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a voluntary interview?
Suspect usually presume that if the police have invited them for a “voluntary” interview then the investigation must not be serious or the police are not treating it seriously. This could not be further from the truth. Voluntary interview are serious interviews because the police suspect that you have committed an offence. The only difference in the interview is that you are not under arrest. Should a police officer want to conduct an interview and you do not attend voluntarily they may arrest you so the interview can be conducted.
Voluntary interviews are held under police caution, your rights remain the same as to those suspect who are under arrest and the interview is recorded.
What is a conditional caution?
A conditional caution requires an offender to comply with conditions, as oppose to a simple caution which does not. A conditional caution may be appropriate where the decision maker believes that while the public interest requires a prosecution in the first instance the interests of the victim, community or offender are better served by the offender complying with suitable conditions aimed at reparation, rehabilitation or punishment.
It must be determined that a conditional caution is likely to be effective and should be offered.
Where an offender shows genuine remorse, indicates willingness to be cautioned and comply with proposed conditions a conditional caution may be considered. A caution f any type will not be appropriate for an offender who fails to accept their responsibility in the commission of an offence.
What is the sex offenders register?
The sex offenders register contains the details of anyone convicted, cautioned (for specific offences) or released from prison for a sexual offence against children or adults. See our blog 'The Sex Offenders Register - What is it and how will affect me?'