A man who sent an e-mail to a paedophile network for world wide distribution on the internet, asking for pictures of under-age girls in "bondage/S&M/torture-type situations", was jailed recently for four months.
First time offender, Allan Hern, 37, of Plaistow, East London, was charged with incitement after New Scotland Yard became aware of his e-mail request, which was distributed in August last year. In addition to a jail term, magistrate Rosamond Keating ordered Hern to go on the sex offenders' register for five years.
The case highlighted a legal loophole which paedophiles downloading child porn from the internet have been able to hide behind.
Until she raised the question herself, the magistrate was not told that numerous indecent images of young girls in bondage and other sexual activities were found on the hard drive of Hern's computer.
According to prosecutor Peter Zinner, this was because the pictures had been deleted to the computer's recycling bin, and were therefore not considered sufficient to prove charges of unlawful possession. He referred to legal authorities that stipulate that files in a recycling bin cannot be said to be in the possession of the computer's owner.
"This has got around and people who download these types of images do delete them to the recycling bin, in order to avoid prosecution," confirmed Zinner. "I think, madam, this is a loophole that will have to be plugged."
Hern was arrested last December but only faced the charges recently because consideration had to be given as to whether or not British courts had the jurisdiction to prosecute a case involving the world wide distribution of e-mail. Because the offence was instigated in this country, it was eventually decided that the court could proceed.