Former mayor jailed for indecent images of children - Hemel Hempstead

19/10/2012

A town's former mayor was jailed today, Friday, 19 October 2012, after secretly amassing a huge collection of child pornography on his computer.

Stephen Holmes, 61, who had served as mayor of Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, was also a school governor.

As a borough councillor and conservative county councillor he had held a post as deputy cabinet member for children's services.

But today, Friday, 19 October 2012, his reputation lay in shreds as he was sent to prison for 10-months.

A court heard how over 16-years and while he was held in high esteem by his local community, he began collecting indecent images of children. They included still and movie clips - some the court heard were of the very worst and depraved kind.

In all he amassed more than 400,000 still images and over 2000 movie clips.

St Albans Crown Court was told Holmes, described by his own barrister as a man with a tendency to hoard, had meticulously catalogued his collection, which he had downloaded from the internet. He had created 'files' for the sick material, giving each a title and a brief description of the abuse depicted.

Holmes, a married man who served as mayor of Hemel Hempstead between 2009 and 2010, appeared for sentence having been convicted at West Herts Magistrates' Court of 18 offences of making indecent photos of children, two offences of possessing indecent photos of children, possessing an indecent image of a child, and two offences of possessing extreme pornography, which the court heard featured bestiality.

Jan Hayne prosecuting said it was on 08 May this year when police went to his home in Dickens Court, Hemel Hempstead. He was at home and when asked by an officer: "Do you have any knowledge of indecent images of children being accessed over the internet?" he asked if he could have 5-minutes to speak to his wife. Allowed to talk to her, he then came back to the police officers present and told them: "Yes I do."

Officers took away his computer equipment and it was discovered he had carefully organised his collection with title names and information about the sordid material shown.

Harry Bentley defending said Holmes, who had run a computer shop in Hemel Hempstead, was a hoarder by nature who in the past had collected vacuum cleaners and even wood. He said Holmes had downloaded material from the internet and had not shared it with anyone else.

"Put simply, this offending smacks of a lonely, pathetic individual in a dark room alone," he said.

Judge John Plumstead QC jailed Holmes for 10-months and made him the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO), which forbids him from working with children, accessing porn on the internet or having any software on his computer which hides the history of sites he has visited.

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