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A paedophile Formby Scout leader walked free from court yesterday

A paedophile Scout leader caught with hundreds of sickening pictures of children yesterday walked free from court. Christopher John Oldland, 54, who volunteered at the 8th Formby Scout Group, downloaded nearly 600 child sex abuse images and suggested he had downloaded the pictures as a result of internet "pop-ups". Christopher John Oldland also worked with children but had images of victims being molested as young as 3-years-old. Oldland, 54, formerly of Greenloons Drive in Formby, now of Stanley Road, Bootle, admitted downloading indecent images of children. The married dad-of-one is also the manager and company secretary of Seaforth Information Network Group (SING), which runs the SING Plus Centre. The Cambridge Road facility's services include an Ofsted registered nursery, holiday play scheme, youth activities and a disability group.

The court heard there was no suggestion he personally abused any children, but he will never be allowed to work with youngsters again. But that assertion was rubbished by prosecutors, who said while there was no evidence of search terms, forensic analysis indicated he sought out the images.

After hearing evidence which showed they came from an external device or were sent to him, Judge Alan Conrad, QC, said this issue could affect sentencing. Defence lawyers said Oldland was withdrawing the claim and that he was looking at adult porn when he saw pictures of children and took further steps to view them. Iain Criddle, prosecuting, said police acting on intelligence went to the SING Plus Centre, where they arrested Oldland and seized his two mobile phones, on July 10 last year. They contained indecent images and officers then searched his family's home in Formby, where they retrieved a tower computer and a USB device revealing more vile pictures. Oldland, described in court as a "Scoutmaster" at the troop, which is based at St Luke's Church in St Luke's Church Road, admitted possessing 570 indecent images. He admitted downloading

104 Category A - the most serious category -

58 Category B and

408 Category C.

Mr Criddle said: "Some of the children are as young as 3 years old, which is a significant aggravating feature."

Andrew McInnes, defending, said his client, who has no previous convictions, was of “hitherto good character" and had appeared to be "a positive contributor to society". He said: "He has had to listen to the case being opened in court this afternoon. His wife is in court, his mother-in-law is in court and a member of his employers is in court." Mr McInnes said he would likely lose his job and added: "He's lost his marriage. His wife is now living alone at the family home, which has been signed over to her. "While they are here giving him some support, there have been huge effects, which clearly include any contact with his son and relationship with his wife and his family."

"He is extremely ashamed. He now realises, although there were no contact offences by him and never would be, these children are the subject of child abuse and by looking at these images he has contributed to that child abuse."

Mr McInnes said Oldland accepted his offences were sexually motivated and there was a prospect of him being rehabilitated in the community, which would be better for society than him serving what would be a short prison sentence. Judge Conrad said he had read a summary of the pictures and stated: "It's deeply distressing to read of the suffering and degradation to which the children, very young children, three or four years of age in some cases, were subjected to by adults and then photographed, purely because there is a market for such troubling images. That is why this is such a serious matter.

"People will be deeply concerned at you, a man who has worked with children, being involved in such offending. It should be pointed out there has been no suggestion in this case of contact offences by you but it is also right you should not work with children again." The judge said Oldland accepted he had a problem and it was more constructive that his 42-week sentence be suspended for two years so he could get help. He handed him a 60-day rehabilitation activity requirement and told him to comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and sign on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.

Main source of story from Liverpool Echo

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