Computer worker who refused police access to his hard drive is jailed

A computer worker who refused to let detectives have access to his hard drive that they suspected contained child abuse images has been put behind bars.

Thursday, 11th November 2021, 6:05 pm

Police had found material on Christopher Longley's computer that indicated the encrypted hard drive contained category A images, the most serious type.

A judge said the 57-year-old, who works with computers for a living, "did whatever you could to frustrate that investigation" and refused to assist in its decryption.

As a result, the material has never been able to be examined, despite efforts by the National Crime Agency and "great public expense".

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Christopher Longley.

Longley, of Briar Lea, Shiney Row, denied perverting the course of justice and failing to disclose a key to protected material but was found guilty by a jury after a trial.

At Newcastle Crown Court today Judge Penny Moreland sentenced Longley to 15 months behind bars.

Longley must abide by a sexual harm prevention order for 15 years, which the judge made "for the protection of the public".

The judge told him: "I regard it as a reasonable inference from your refusal to co-operate with the investigation by facilitating the decryption that you hadsomething to hide upon it.

"Failing to co-operate with an investigation into indecent images of children will not result in a lesser penalty than the offence."

The judge said there must be a sentence of "general deterrence" for offending by such failure to co-operate and added: "Appropriate punishment can only beachieved by an immediate custodial sentence."

Tony Davis, defending, said Longley understood the "underlying inferences" that the court would make as a result of his behaviour.

Mr Davis said Longley's remand in custody has been a "shock to the system" for someone who has never been to prison before.

Mr Davis said Longley's occupation of "repairing computers and the like" will be affected by the sexual harm prevention order, which restricts his computer use and will be an additional punishment to him.