Billy Charlton on trial accused of sharing indecent image of child on WhatsApp

A man has gone on trial accused of sending a video clip involving a child and an animal to over 40 of his contacts over WhatsApp.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 5:43 pm

Prosecutors claim William Charlton, known as Billy, forwarded the illegal file, that had been sent to him by someone else, to 47 people in a distribution group over the messaging app on his mobile phone.

The 56-year-old claims he did not view the 18-second video clip, which featured a boy aged between 10 and 14 and an animal, before he forwarded it on and had no reason to suspect its contents were illegal.

Charlton, formerly of Seaham but now of Sidmouth Road, Gateshead, denies making an indecent photograph of a child and distributing an indecent photograph of a child and is being tried by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court.

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Billy Charlton arriving at Newcastle Crown Court.
Billy Charlton arriving at Newcastle Crown Court.

The court heard Charlton has already admitted possessing extreme pornography in relation to an image involving an adult engaging in sexual activity with an animal.

He has also pleaded guilty to another offence of "showing an act resulting or likely to result in serious injury", again involving an adult, and also on his phone.

Prosecutor Ian West told the court the case is a "child of the millennium" as it involves WhatsApp and added: "William Charlton received a video file via WhatsApp on June 28, 2018 and at about 11.30am and at 2pm he forwarded that WhatsApp video file onto 40-odd other people in his little distribution group."

He added: "His case is he didn't see the image before he forwarded it and he had no reason to suspect that it was an indecent image."

Billy Charlton arriving at Newcastle Crown Court.

Mr West said Charlton was arrested on June 20, 2019, and the illegal images were recovered from his LG mobile phone.

Police had found the video on the phone of another man, who was arrested in relation to something unrelated, and Charlton had been shown as the sender.

The court heard the thumbnail image of the boy and animal which is visible on Charlton's device does not indicate that the image is indecent or illegal.

The video was forwarded to 47 users and received by 42 although only 41 provided a "read" receipt.

No text was sent along with the image.

Mr West said it was not possible through examination of the phone to determine whether the footage had been opened or viewed before it was forwarded.

The court heard a total of 7,987 WhatsApp messages had been received by Charlton on that phone and then forwarded on, mostly containing pictures and videos.

They were received from a total of 71 different users.

Charlton told police in interview "I send all sorts of ****" and "I get all sorts, I don't sit and watch them all".

The trial continues.

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