A RETIRED medical researcher’s quest for indecent images of children from the internet was partly blamed on medication which made him “hyper-sexual”, a court heard.
Examination of material stored on devices seized by police from the Newton Aycliffe home where Andrew Brown lived alone, in January last year, uncovered 624 offending images, 19 in the most severe category.
Durham Crown Court was told they featured both male and female victims, aged five to 12, being sexually abused by adults.
Chris Baker, prosecuting, said there was evidence of deliberate searching for such material.
Brown admitted possession of the images but said he could not recall downloading them.
He told police he was involved in fantasy chat room conversation pretending to be a young boy, and in doing so, must have accidentally downloaded them.
Brown said he had taken medication for memory problems which had a side-effect of making him hyper-sexual.
The 65-year-old, of Lascelles Avenue, admitted three counts of making indecent images.
John Turner, for Brown, said due to degenerative conditions which have developed in recent years, Brown took drugs with a side-effect of making takers prone to reckless behaviour.
“He accepts entirely that is not an excuse and does not provide a reason why he did what he did.
“Because his condition has deteriorated further, his medication has changed and he’s not on that medication now.
“Ongoing assessment of his condition reflects that it will only deteriorate.
“To his credit he has a lack of previous convictions and a positive good character and, until his health deteriorated, he was still taking part in a number of important medical research schemes.
“There was a Newcastle University article for which he was praised for his work in that respect, and he has some very powerful character references which have been submitted to the court.
“But, he does accept he has an unhealthy interest in children.”
Judge Jonathan Carroll told Brown: “You engaged in looking for this material for about three years, with search terms used indicating deliberate searches.
“I don’t accept it arose from accidental downloading during chat room activity.
“But, you have given some serious thought to your actions and accept you need help to come to terms with it and stop accessing it.”
He imposed an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, during which Brown must attend 30 probation rehabilitation activity days.
The judge also made Brown subject to restrictions under a 15-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order and notification as a sex offender, for ten years
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