Former soldier who possessed over 10,000 child porn images spared jail for his 'exemplary' military service
Timothy Murfitt initially claimed he had only looked at adult pornography, but later, pictures started to crop up on his hard drives which were images of child sex abuse
A former high-flying soldier who had been accused of being in possession of more than 10,000 child pornographic images has been spared jail due to his "exemplary" military skills, reports The Sun. Ex-soldier Timothy Murfitt, who used search terms like 'toddler', 'kids' and 'baby girl pics' to find controversial images of children, has been let go of entirely because of his clean service record in the military. Maidstone Crown Court came to know that Murfitt was working in London when police went to his Sevenoaks home in April last year.
Police said that they had spoken to the former soldier over the phone, and during the conversation, Murfitt revealed to the police that he had all his laptops and hard drives with him. Once the police got to know the whereabouts of Murfitt's cyber devices, they asked him to hand everything over.
Prosecutor Mary Jacobson said that Murfitt initially claimed he had only looked at adult pornography, but later, pictures started to crop up on his hard drives which were essentially images of child sex abuse. The police found more than 10,000 images, which also included more than 170 in the highest category and almost 80 of the next serious classification.
The former soldier was also found to be in possession of more than 380 extreme images showing adults having sex with animals. Jacobson said: "The children were very young. The moving images were over one hour in duration."
The prosecutor also revealed that at the time of his arrest, Murfitt had been honest about the pictures, and claimed he had been sent images of children after which he continued to search for them. However, he also denied having any sexual interest in children and was believed to be suffering from PTSD at the time.
The prosecutor said: "He said he had trauma from active service. He said it didn't excuse him from looking at the images."
Rebecca Nieto, who defended Murfitt, said he was "absolutely deeply ashamed of this behavior." She said, "There is a deeper psychological issue here. He has tried to get help with his mental condition but has not received much. He got so desperate that his partner actually wrote to Prince Harry."
"There was very little help for soldiers. This is an unusual case. It is not something that is frequently seen in the context of this offending. There is unique mitigation that accompanies this sort of offending - he clearly has serious ongoing PTSD. The harm he poses is very low."
She continued, "He has become entrepreneurial. He employs 11 people in his company." Murfitt was later spared jail by Judge Martin Huseyin, who told him, "Your history is remarkable. Your military record seldom reaches the levels of considerable praise that you have from those who dealt with you. This is utterly out of character. Nothing like this should happen again."
The judge added, "Some of the images are really appalling. What drives that is people are prepared to watch them. You had an exemplary military career, you put your own life at risk. Equally importantly, you spent a lot of your life working very hard to protect other soldiers from harm."
"It is particularly inappropriate and sad you should end up committing offenses for which particularly vulnerable young children are at the center of the creation of those images. [But] given your cooperation and other factors, I am prepared to suspend the sentence."
Murfitt was sentenced to six months suspended for two years with 160 hours of unpaid work. His name will appear on the sex offenders' register for seven years and a sexual harm prevention order was made.
This article has been edited and updated