• Wed. May 22nd, 2024

Police officer spared jail after admitting possessing extreme pornography


Sep 27, 2022

A police officer has been spared jail after admitting possession of “extreme pornography”.

Former Thames Valley Police PC, Craig Finch, who had been based at St Aldates’ police station, was told the offence was “aggravated” by his profession at a time of concerns over “undermining public confidence” in the police as he was handed a four-month suspended sentence at High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

The 38-year-old was found to be in possession of an SD card containing five videos “which portrayed in an explicit and realistic way an act which resulted or was likely to result in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals”, court documents revealed.

The videos were “grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character” and any “reasonable person” would believe the person in the image was “real”, the charge added.

Finch, of Banbury, previously pleaded guilty to one count of possessing extreme pornography at an earlier hearing.

He sat in the dock, wearing a white shirt and tie under a dark jacket, with a blank expression as the sentence was handed down.

Sentencing, District Judge Arvind Sharma said “extreme images are not to be equated with the same level of seriousness as children” but possessing them was “not a victimless crime”.

District Judge Sharma said it was a “significant aggravating factor” that Finch was a police officer at the time.

However, he said he opted for a suspended sentence “because of your previous good character and, to a limited extent, you have lost your job because of your own doing”.

Danny Latham, prosecuting, told the court how police were alerted by the National Crime Agency (NCA) to a number of uploads to the social media platform Kik in April 2021.

Officers identified Finch as the suspect on November 21 the same year and arrested him outside his house three days later, the court was told.

During a search of his home, police discovered a laptop and bag containing a number of SD cards, including the one containing the five videos, the court heard.

Mr Latham told the court how, when interviewed, Finch said he had been sent the videos via WhatsApp and had blocked the sender, who he did not identify, after receiving the final one.

The court heard the videos were found among more than 400 other pieces of pornographic material and there was “a suggestion of a background problem with pornography” in a pre-sentence report.

Finch resigned as a police officer before a misconduct hearing which concluded he would have been fired, the court heard.

He has been placed on the College of Policing’s barred list.

The court was told he has since sought work in a warehouse.

In addition to a suspended sentence, Finch was also ordered to undertake 160 hours of unpaid work and pay court costs.

Thames Valley Police’s Deputy Chief Constable Jason Hogg said: “It is completely unacceptable for a police officer to commit crime and breach our misconduct standards, especially by possessing such images.

“We will continue to take very strong action when it comes to those working for Thames Valley Police committing crimes, we will investigate, put the evidence before the Crown Prosecution Service, as well as progressing misconduct proceedings to remove them from working for Thames Valley Police, as we have done in this case.

“I hope by the force’s actions we have shown to the public that we will not tolerate criminal activity within the force.”

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