A man found in possession of indecent images of children who refused to provide police with a password to access a hard drive has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Phillip Raymond Thorne, aged 43 and of High East Street, Dorchester, appeared at Bournemouth Crown Court on Thursday 1 March 2018 to be sentenced for charges of making indecent photographs of a child and failing to disclose the key to protected information.
After admitting the offences, Thorne has also been placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years and made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for an indefinite period.
On Thursday 22 January 2015 officers from Dorset Police’s Paedophile Online Investigation Team executed a search warrant at the defendant’s previous home address in Dorchester.
The officers were acting on intelligence that indicated indecent images had been downloaded using the internet provider address that was linked to the defendant’s home address.
A number of items of computer equipment were seized, including a tower computer.
A forensic computer examiner analysed the device and found the computer had a number of hard drives, one of which had been encrypted.
The examiner found a number of thumbnails or ‘filepaths’ indicating that the hard drive contained indecent images of children, however because the files were encrypted officers were unable to access them without the password.
Thorne was interviewed by officers and was asked for the password to the hard drive, but declined to provide it.
A total of 21 indecent images – of the most serious category of indecent images, Category A – were recovered from devices attributed to Thorne.
Detective Sergeant Mark Fursman, of Dorset Police’s Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT), said: “There was clear evidence from the examiner indicating that there were files on Phillip Thorne’s computer that had been used to store indecent images of children.
“However, he refused to co-operate with officers and provide the password to prevent the full extent of his offending being revealed.
“This is the first prosecution in Dorset for the charge of failing to disclose the key to protected information and I hope the sentence imposed demonstrates that even if offenders refuse to assist officers with their investigation, they will still face justice before the court and the prospect of a significant prison sentence.”
The Paedophile Online Investigation Team can be contacted on 101. In an emergency always dial 999. Alternatively, call the free and anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111 where mobile phone tariffs may apply.
Dorset Police is currently working alongside other forces in the South West region and the Lucy Faithfull Foundation in a multi-agency campaign to tackle the growing demand for sexually explicit images of children.
For more information visit the charity’s Stop It Now! Get Help website at www.stopitnow.org.uk.