A police officer caught with an iPhone stash of child abuse images – some featuring infants – has been spared prison by a judge who described his fall from grace as “spectacular”.
Ryan David Anderson, a 39-year-old now former Police Scotland constable who had been based in the Borders, found himself in the dock after Cumbrian counterparts visited his Carlisle home on May 11, leading to the shocking criminal collection being uncovered.
A total of 724 illegal photographs of youngsters had been downloaded.
They included 149 classed in category A, the most serious.
“Many of these images are of very small children, if not babies,” prosecutor Alison Mather told Carlisle Crown Court as Anderson, of the city’s Edgehill Road was sentenced.
He admitted seven offences: Three of making indecent photographs of a child; two of possessing extreme pornographic images – almost a dozen featuring animals and one showing an unconscious woman being raped; one charge of distributing an indecent category A image; and publishing an obscene article discussing child sex abuse, arising from online chat with another individual.
Anderson – a man of previous good character – had provided investigating officers with passwords for several devices seized.
Only one, an iPhone, contained illicit material.
Acknowledging his early guilty pleas, that he had taken steps to address his offending behaviour and needed further professional assistance, Recorder Julian Shaw suspended a two-year prison sentence for two years.
“I have to say, with some hesitation, Mr Anderson, I have decided this is not a case which requires you to serve an immediate custodial sentence,” said the judge, who branded the illegal images “disgusting”.
“You are approaching your 40th birthday and the background to this matter is that you have formerly been a respected member of society – a serving police officer,“ Recorder Shaw added.
“Your fall from a position in society where you were respected and indeed possessed a quite considerable authority and power has been spectacular.
“You have brought that upon yourself solely because of your behaviour.”
Anderson must complete a 30-day rehabilitation requirement, 160 hours’ unpaid work and a three-month electronically monitored night-time curfew.
He must abide by the strict terms of a sexual harm prevention order and sign the sex offenders’ register, each for 10 years.
Speaking after the sentencing, Chief Superintendent Andy McDowall, head of Police Scotland’s professional standards department, said: “This individual was suspended upon Police Scotland being notified of the investigation by Cumbria police and I can confirm he is no longer in the service.
“We are aware of the outcome of the case and had the individual remained with Police Scotland, a report would be made to the Assistant Chief Constable Professionalism and Assurance at the conclusion of legal proceedings for consideration of gross misconduct proceedings.
“Images of child abuse show real abuse of real children which has a terrible, devastating and lifelong impact. Online offenders may think they are anonymous but they are not.”