Billy Charlton warns internet users as he stands trial charged with sharing indecent video of child on WhatsApp
A grandad who claims he never watched a video clip of a child engaged in a sex act with an animal before he was put on trial for sending it to over 40 of his WhatsApp contacts has issued a warning to other internet users from the witness box.
Prosecutors claim William Charlton forwarded the illegal image, 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, which featured a boy aged between 10-14 with the 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.
Giving evidence from the witness box this morning, Charlton told jurors he would regularly receive and send "daft jokes" over the messaging app on his phone and did not always watch them.
He added: "It was just daft joke messages, things like that, you know what I mean.
"I would just forward them on, not even thinking about it most of the time."
Charlton insisted he had not watched the video featuring the animal and child, that he had received from someone else.
He added: "It wasn't something I would expect from him.
"He knows if he sent me images of children I would kick off with him, as I would anyone else."
Charlton told jurors he is a "proud father and grandfather" and would receive and send messages thinking they were "daft jokes".
He added: "Now, being branded a paedo over a stupid video I've never even seen, I would tell all my friends and family, get off it all.
"If you send something and you are not aware of it, you could be sitting here."
He added: "I swear I've never seen it."
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, which was also on his phone.
Charlton told jurors he thought those images were just "daft shock videos" and added: "I didn't think anything of them."
Jurors have heard 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.