`

Police warning after Harrogate man prosecuted for owning child porn images

Malcolm McKeating was found guilty of making indecent category B and C photographs of children.
Malcolm McKeating was found guilty of making indecent category B and C photographs of children.

A former top-level security and military man has been spared jail after police found child-porn images on his computer.

'Save Brexit' rally coming to Harrogate

Malcom McKeating, 67, who used to work for GCHQ, the Government’s communications headquarters, downloaded the debauched material in his study and hid his dark secret from his family.

But he was arrested following a police search of his home in Harrogate in January 2016, when officers seized two of his computers, York Crown Court heard.

Forensic analysis showed that the ex-army man and former civil servant - who served his country in the Falklands, Germany and Northern Ireland - had stored vile images involving children on his computer equipment.

More time needed to unveil permanent repairs for the A59 at Kex Gill

Only half a dozen images were found, but the Crown Prosecution Service believes that McKeating - described as having the “highest security clearance” during his time with the national security services - may well have been viewing child pornography since 2006.

The officer in the case, DC Vincent Formosa, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "Every indecent photograph is a result of a child suffering from abuse. A child is victimised not only when they are abused, but also every time that image is viewed.

"The case was technically complex, involving sophisticated encryption techniques and I must applaud the efforts of North Yorkshire Police’s forensic investigators who put in months of work in unravelling the complex web of evidence.

"This case sends a clear message that you can’t hide anonymously behind a screen - those who access these sickening images will be traced and prosecuted."

James Gelsthorpe, prosecuting, claimed that McKeating had managed to hide or delete other such images which police were unable to find.

McKeating, a married father-of-two and a grandfather, denied he had downloaded any child porn, but a jury convicted him of two counts of making indecent images following a trial in August. The two charges relate solely to the half-dozen images found on McKeating’s computers in January 2016.

Defence counsel claimed there was no evidence to suggest McKeating had viewed other indecent images because the forensic analysis only showed that he had accessed file “titles” in the past.

Leeds mum smuggled spice into Wetherby prison inside bra to give to son

But prosecutor Mr Gelsthorpe said: “We submit that the evidence suggests there is a long history of the defendant accessing indecent images of children.

“The reality is that there was searching (online) through the use of ‘peer-to-peer’ software for images of children as young as five years old.”

He said “the very fact of there being such a large quantity of searches made, and a large quantity of material that was downloaded”, meant that it “stretched the bounds of credibility” to suggest there was no further wrongdoing dating back to 2006.

The court heard that McKeating had retired from his work as a security expert “due to the damage and shame brought (about) by his arrest”.

Defence barrister Mukhtar Hussain QC said McKeating, of Skipton Crescent, had downloaded only a very small number of images rated Category B and C – not the highest level.

He said that McKeating, who still maintains his innocence, was “a man of hitherto good character” and had “served Queen and country over many years”.

Judge Paul Worsley QC said McKeating had been convicted “on clear evidence” of possessing “perverted” child images, albeit “very few” in number.

He told McKeating: “I have no doubt that you have for long, sadly, been a paedophile, and that you have accessed, for a number of years, images of children as young as five. I’m satisfied that you used your expertise to delete all reference to the images that you had accessed.”

The judge added: “You cannot bring yourself to admit to your wife and family (what you did) when in your study room, on your own, for many years.”

However, Mr Worsley said he could suspend the inevitable jail term because he was sentencing McKeating only for the two counts on the indictment.

Sentencing McKeating to a four-month suspended prison term, the judge said he also had to bear in mind the effect an immediate sentence would have on his family, McKeating’s previous good character and the fact that he was only in possession of a small number of images.

McKeating was also made subject to a sexual-harm prevention order, which will last for seven years, and ordered to pay £4,200 costs.

If you have concerns about someone’s online activity you can report it to CEOP, via www.ceop.police.uk or to the police by calling 101.

CEOP’s Thinkuknow programme provides information for children, young people, parents and carers about staying safe online and preventing sexual abuse and exploitation.