A former UK police officer, Darren Wright, 38, has received a suspended jail sentence after being found guilty of being in possession of over 1500 indecent images of children. The images, discovered on his iPhone, included pictures of rape.
Wright argued in court that battling leukemia twice had left him with mental health issues. This, his legal representatives argued in the Liverpool Crown Court, was the reason for his horrifying crime.
Prosecutor Robert Jones told the court the images were discovered when Wright asked for his phone back, so he could retain the details of medical appointments. The police, at the time, saw no problem in returning the phone if Wright remained under supervision when taking down the appointment details.
“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,” Jones explained.
Wright’s phone was seized by police after suspicions were raised about his professional conduct. During the seizure, a laptop, hard drive, and a USB stick were also removed from Wright’s possession. Police found 23 Category A images, mainly consisting of child rape. A further 23 Category B photos and another 1,368 Category C indecent images made up the bulk of the seizure.
Merseyside Police’s professional standards department dismissed Wright, firing him from the police force after a formal misconduct hearing, which Wright chose to remain absent from.
Defense lawyer James Hamilton claimed Wright’s cancer diagnosis was a “significant reason” for why he offended, arguing it impacted his mental health. Hamilton argued since Wright lost a career he once loved and suffered two bouts of cancer, had already suffered significant punishment.
Judge Denis Watson QC handed down a six month jail term, suspended for two years, and an order for Wright to attend 35 days of rehabilitation. Wright was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register and to adhere to a 7-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
But for some, a suspended sentence is not enough. According to Dark Justice, a pedophile hunter group, lenient sentences like Wright’s are sending the wrong message to offenders, and to the community.
The pedophile hunters told MailOnline that lenient sentencing is not a deterrent if there is a 50-50 chance of walking free. People caught with small amounts of cannabis face years in prison, they explained, while the rapist walks free.
"These sick people found guilty of grooming intended to rape their child victim, and were more than happy to destroy their lives. They need to be rehabilitated, and the best place to do that is behind bars."
According to a Freedom of Information request by MailOnline, nearly half of those found guilty of grooming children online for sex are let off by judges who are implementing lenient sentencing. 88 pedophiles received suspended jail terms or no sentencing, while 91 pedophiles were handed prison sentences.
In Britain, the possession of child porn images is so widespread that the prosecution of all offenders is not possible. A 2016 study conducted by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children , revealed the number of people guilty of viewing child porn could exceed the half a million mark.