Diplomat jailed over hoard of child porn

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The Independent Online
Robert Coghlan, a diplomat, was jailed for three years yesterday for smuggling a hoard of "filthy" child pornography into Britain. The divorced father of two, the first British envoy to be convicted of such an offence, spent thousands of pounds in Japanese sex-shops.

Coghlan, 54, was building up his illicit video collection when he helped the Princess of Wales around Tokyo last year. He ended up with the biggest consignment of paedophile material seized by Customs recently - sacks of tapes depicting boys as young as 11 being abused.

Passing sentence at Southwark Crown Court, Judge Gerald Butler QC told the former first secretary: "There is no evidence ... that you used or intended to use this obscene material for any purpose other than for your own sexual gratification but a custodial sentence is inevitable. I am satisfied beyond doubt that you always knew that large numbers of these video cassettes involved the exploitation, abuse and degradation of children. If it were not for men such as you to provide a market for this filth, there would be no incentive for others to manufacture and sell them for their own profit."

Coghlan, of Danbury Street, Islington, north London, was found guilty on Thursday of one charge of smuggling 109 obscene videos into Britain last March. The court heard he worked four and a half years in Tokyo. When told he was being transferred to Madrid, he "desperately" tried to ensure his "precious" films arrived safely.

He hoped his status and a false last-minute declaration that he had no prohibitive goods among his shipped belongings would be enough. But Customs men searched some of his luggage and found the tapes. Coghlan's defence was that as he had always believed his belongings would be shipped directly to Spain, he could never have had any intention of smuggling them into Britain.

When he found they were coming here, he had "no option" but to lie on a Customs clearance form.

Denying he was a paedophile, he insisted he ended up with the videos only because he could not properly translate the labels. Coghlan said that he had never been certain what he was buying, an assertion rejected by the judge.

A government spokesman said Coghlan's case was being examined under the Foreign Office's disciplinary procedure. A Foreign Office spokesman refused to say whether Coghlan's dismissal was a foregone conclusion.

However, another source said it was "inconceivable" that the envoy would be kept on.

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