RECAP: Updates as Billy Charlton stands trial at Newcastle Crown Court over indecent image charge

William Bernard Charlton, 56, known as Billy Charlton, is on trial at Newcastle Crown Court this week.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 6:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 9:47 am

Charlton, formerly of Seaham, now of of Sidmouth Road, Bensham, Gateshead is accused of one count each of making and distributing an indecent image of a child on June 28, 2018.

The trial is listed for three days.

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

RECAP updates from court as Billy Charlton stands trial accused of extreme pornography possession

Last updated: Monday, 05 July, 2021, 18:04

Newcastle Crown Court

William Charlton, known as Billy Charlton, has arrived at Newcastle Crown Court on Monday morning.

The case is listed for three days.

The jury for the case has been selected.

The jury has been sworn in at Newcastle Crown Court.

Her Honour Judge Mallett has told the jury: "In this case, the evidence the prosecution relies on is largely accepted by Mr Charlton. The main issue is going to be about what Mr Charlton saw and what he knew."

Case revolves around WhatsApp message

Prosecutor Ian West has said the matter in question involves a WhatsApp message.

He told the jury: "This case is very much a child of the Millennium because it concerns WhatsApp.

“Mr Charlton received a message, in fact a video file, via WhatsApp on June 28 at about half past 11 and at two 'clock in the afternoon, he forwarded that video file on to 40-odd people in his little distribution group."

Charlton must prove he did not see the image he forwarded on

Prosecuting Mr West told the jury it has been agreed that the file was indecent and that it had been forwarded but Charlton's case is that he was not aware of what it had contained.

He said: “Legally, he must prove 'that he himself had not seen the photograph and did not know, nor have any reason to suspect, it to be indecent'.

"His case is he did not see the video, but he forwarded it. He had no reason to suspect it was an indecent image."

Charlton pleads guilty to two charges relating to extreme pornography

Mr West told the jury Charlton had admitted two further charges of possession of extreme pornography in June 2019.

One image depicted a person in sexual activity with an animal and the other an act 'likely to result in serious injury’.

"These are different photographs they are different images, they are nothing to do with children," Mr West told the court.

"These were found on Mr Charlton's phone and,indeed, he had forwarded them. He has admitted these counts."

100,000 messages on Charlton’s phone

Charlton’s defence solicitor Christopher Rose, is questioning Northumbria Police digital investigator Danial Huxter.

The police officer has said it would have been impossible to forward the video clip without downloading it - but it would have been possible to do so without opening it.

He said: "I can't say that it was opened.”

Mr Rose asked "So we know it was downloaded, we don’t know if it was opened?"

Mr Huxter replied: "Yes."

The digital investigator confirmed there had been more than 100,000 messages found on Charlton’s phone, many of which contained still image or video.

After changes to the way data was held in April 2018, it was possible to ascertain that more than 40,000 messages sent from Charlton's phone were ones he had been forwarded in turn.

Clip was shared on social media

When Charlton’s defence solicitor Mr Rose asked Northumbria Police’s digital investigator whether he had seen the clip in question before, Mr Huxter replied that he had.

Asked how often, he replied: "I can't say definite numbers, but several times."

When asked if it had been shared on mainstream social media, he replied: "In my experience, yes."

Asked by Mr Rose if it was the sort of thing someone could come across on the likes of 'WhatsApp, or Twitter, or Snapchat', he said: "Possibly".

Video was found on acquaintance’s phone

Detective Sergeant David Reeves has told the jury about an interview conducted with Charlton after his arrest.

He told the jury that a WhatsApp message containing the video had been forwarded by Charlton to the phone of an acquaintance - Leonard Lowther - and police found this video on Mr Lowther’s phone in the course of an investigation into a separate matter. Mr Lowther has not been charged in relation to the video.

“People send me all sorts of crap”

When asked if he recalled the clip, Charlton said: “Ah divvent kna. People send me all sorts of crap.”

In police interview which was read out loud to the court Charlton was asked if he had sent the video and he replied: “I have probably sent it, I don’t recall.”

He told police: “I would probably have forwarded it to a couple of mates. I suppose Len is on my WhatsApp.”

Charlton told police he could not recall whether he had seen the video but accepted he may have done.

He denied he received any sexual gratification from images of children: “Never in my life,” he told police.

Charlton said he might have forwarded the video as a joke: “I think it is twisted - in a twisted sort of way, it is a joke.”

The case has been adjourned until 10.30am on July 6.

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