A former Merseyside police officer caught with 1,500 indecent images of children including rape photos walked free from court today.
Darren Wright admitted downloading, possessing and sharing pictures of child sex abuse over a two year period while working as a PC.
The 38-year-old, who lives with his parents in Southport, was spared jail after Liverpool Crown Court heard how he suffered mental health problems after twice battling leukaemia.
Robert Jones, prosecuting, said officers raided the house Wright shares with his mum and dad on June 9 last year.
Mr Jones said: ‘The defendant said he was anxious to retain some medical appointments from his mobile phone. Police said there was no difficulty in him doing that, provided it was under supervision.
‘The defendant appeared to be acting rather furtively with his iPhone. In fact what he was trying to do was delete some chat conversations.
‘Those chat conversations were nothing to do with indecent images, but the police did not know that at the time.’
Police seized his phone plus an HP laptop hard drive and USB stick. The stash included 23 Category A images, the most serious category in sentencing guidelines, involving child rape.
Wright had downloaded a further 26 Category B and 1,368 Category C indecent photographs.
Describing the pictures, Mr Jones told the court: ‘One of those is notably a very, very young child indeed.’
Wright was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, went into remission, but relapsed in 2013, before again going into remission.
James Hamilton, defending, said his client’s health difficulties had ‘a significant impact upon the reason why he offended’.
He said Wright had mental health problems and had since received counselling to address his behaviour and lost his job as a policeman.
Mr Hamilton said: ‘He is a man who has suffered two bouts of serious ill health, the consequences of which will live with him for the rest of his life.
‘He has also suffered the loss of the career that he loved deeply. That was something that was taken from him in many ways by his ill health. He has already, in my respectful submission, suffered significant punishment.’
Judge Denis Watson, QC, said Wright had made a positive contribution to society but developed mental health issues after two bouts of cancer.
He sentenced him to six months in prison suspended for two years, plus a 35-day rehabilitation activity requirement.
Judge Watson said: ‘Had you committed these offences in the course of your work as a police officer or used your position as a police officer to facilitate any of these offences, there could only have been an immediate custodial sentence.’
He told Wright to sign on the Sex Offenders Register and to abide by a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for seven years.
Merseyside Police’s professional standards department previously fired Wright following a formal misconduct hearing, which he failed to attend.
Detective Chief Superintendent Karen Cummings said: ‘We simply cannot afford to have police officers and support staff working for us who do not strive to uphold the highest levels of professionalism and integrity at all times.’