RECAP updates from court from second day of Billy Charlton's indecent image trial at Newcastle Crown Court

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

Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 3:51 pm

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.

LIVE updates from second day of Billy Charlton indecent image trial

Last updated: Tuesday, 06 July, 2021, 15:47

Charlton is accused of one count each of making and distributing an indecent image of a child on June 28, 2018.

The jury were told on Monday that 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,” prosecutor Ian West told the court.”

The case centres around a WhatsApp message containing the image which was forwarded from Charlton’s phone to a distribution list.

Charlton must prove to the court he did not see the image he forwarded on, the jury was told on Monday.

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.”

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.

Charlton ready to give evidence

Today’s proceedings are under way, with the defendant to appear as the only witness for the defence in the case.

The jury have been welcomed into the room.

Christopher Rose, defending, has called Charlton into the witness box.

‘Bad taste’ jokes shared on WhatsApp

The 57-year-old has told the court he had used Whatsapp for years and signed up to it because friends wanted to send him jokes and messages on it.

He had told Mr Rose “daft jokes”, some in “bad taste”, would come in all the time, a “constant stream”, and he would send them on to others.

Mr Rose has asked about a Dave Parkin, a friend from Nottingham, who would send him messages all the time.

“You would just forward them now, you wouldn’t even think about it most of the time,” he said.

He says people would send car crashes, video, memes and written messages.

Porn shared for shock value

Mr Rose has asked him about lawful pornography and Charlton says he would occasionally get them, but says they weren’t for sexual gratification but would be “shock videos.”

He said he may have a brief look but turn them straight off.

He has been asked about an image of a child and an animal.

He says he cannot remember seeing it and “must be the only man in the world” who hasn’t.

His friend would know if he had sent on images of a child and would know “I would kick off about it” if that had been the case.

He says if someone had sent him something like that he would have “savaged them” adding he is a “proud, proud dad.”

Charlton has been asked about two messages he has admitted charges in relation to.

He says they were “daft shock videos, I didn’t even watch them, you would see it and say ‘Oh dear God’ and switch them off.”

He says he must have passed them on at some point.

He has told the jury they should all get off social media, because he has been “branded a paedophile” because of something someone else sent him.

“I would never think any one of my friends would send me something like that.”

Charlton says he is ‘completely confused’ about video clips

Ian West, prosecuting, is now cross examining Charlton.

He has referred to a video, mentioned a little earlier, which Charlton says doesn’t show anything of a sexual nature.

Mr West says there is a video which shows a sex act and points out in a statement Charlton says he did “probably” did see it.

Charlton has said in court he has not seen it.

The defendant has said he is under a lot of pressure and is “always truthful and honest”.

He says he thought the police officer was referring to a different video.

He says in his recollection he was answering accurately but no one will show him the videos.

He says he was getting “completely confused” about the clips.

“I have absolutely no recollection of this video, the one I’m talking about is completely different.”

Mr West has detailed how from his statement it was clear he had seen the clip in question and reads out a description Charlton gave of it.

“I haven’t got time to watch the videos, I just send them on”

Charlton says the video he is taking about is “innuendo”.

He is now being asked about messages he received on the date relating to when the image of the child and animal was received and sent on.

Charlton got it at 11.29am and he forwarded it on at 2.01pm, but says he has no knowledge of what it showed.

Mr West says it was on his phone for 2.5 hours and he had “plenty of time to look at it.”

He asks if he was not curious and look at a message which started with a view of the floor and notes he told police he only passed on messages he thought were funny.

Mr West notes the same person who sent on the message of note did send him a previous illegal image, which relates to a charge he has pleaded guilty.

Charlton went replied: “I would never allow them to, they would be royally savaged, if they sent me a video.”

He says: “I’m a ceiling fixer, I haven’t got time to sit and watch videos all day, I just send them on.”

Tens of thousands of videos sent to Charlton’s phone

Mr West has asked him why he sends on messages and Charlton says for “a bit craic” and doesn’t expect to be sent on anything of concern.

Out of the tens of thousand of videos he had, just three of we’re of such a nature.

Mr West says he had time to have a look at the video and that’s how he knows how is started with a video of the floor and then a boy and an animal.

He says the police were talking about a different video.

Mr West says he is “thinking of an excuse” to say he hadn’t seen it.

Charlton says he has been in no contact with the man who sent him the pornographic video since.

“You thought it was funny fun you sent it into 47 friends who you thought would find it funny,” Mr West said.

“Did you savage the person who sent you it?” he added?

Charlton replied no, because he didn’t see the video in question.

The judge has told the jury they will soon hear the closing speeches and she will then give them information relating to the law before deliberations begin.

They are going to have a break while discussions are held with Mr Rose, who is defending, and Mr West, prosecuting, ahead of this.

Following legal discussions, which have not been before the jury, the hearing will resumed at 2.15pm.

The jury are back in court and Her Honour Judge Mallett has told them they have been discharged from reaching a verdict on count one, which relates to the downloading of the video.

“Common sense would say you would look at it before sharing it"

Ian West, prosecuting, has begun his closing speech.

He says their real focus should be on whether he had seen the video.

He has pointed out a number of details from the police interview with Charlton, including that he passes on things he has seen and looked at which he thinks his friends will find funny or entertaining.

Common sense would say you would look at it before sharing it, he says.

He says Charlton says the video was “twisted” and told the officers what it had shown.

Mr West has said today, he has tried to “explain away” that by changing his story by saying he saw another video which started the same way, looking at the floor.

“It’s clear, isn’t it when he admitted to your this morning that he saw a video looking at the floor and then a boy and a donkey, it was the same video,” he said.

Mr West says Charlton said “you don’t see anything” - how would he know if he hadn’t seen it, he says.

Mr West says in the interview he knew what he was being asked about and the claim he hadn’t seen the clip was a “late invention after painting himself into a corner.”

The prosecutor has said the law prevents distribution, not the motivation behind it.

Arrested a year after forwarding message

Christopher Rose, defending, is now making his closing speech.

He asks the jury to put themselves in the defendant’s position.

He is getting hundreds of messages every day, sends one on, doesn’t think about it, because it’s from someone he knows to others he knows.

A year later he is arrested.

“Do you think you would give a credible, clear, accurate, unimpeachable” response about sending it on?

It’s now another year on, talking about a day in June and about what he had been doing that day.

No suggestion that Charlton is a paedophile

He says Mr West rightly ended his speech by saying no one is suggesting Charlton is a paedophile or attracted to children.

He says this case comes down to whether they are persuaded “more likely than not” he did not see the footage he sent on.

If they find Charlton has not proved that to them, then the defence fails.

He says the expert evidence does not help on whether it was viewed, nor does the time lag between it being received and sent on.

He says Charlton said he was confused and at cross purposes about the clips when being interviewed.

He says the defendant is not a man who “sits calmly and collectively to listen to what’s been said to focus on a reply” but “latches on to what he thinks he is being asked about.”

He says he was explaining about a different, similar image than the one he is being accused of.

Defence concludes summing up

Mr Rose finished his speech by saying: “You might like Mr Charlton, you might not, you might have sympathy for him, you might not.

“What this case comes down to is whether you think it’s more likely or not he saw that image, taking the case at its height from the crown.

“The evidence is quite clear, that he did not see that footage when he passed the message on and did so unwittingly.

“Your verdict arising from count two should be not guilty.”

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