Researcher `ran porn library on the Internet'

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The Independent Online
A university researcher ran a computer library of pornography including indecent pictures of children and allowed others to supply and copy pictures from his collection, a court was told yesterday.

In what is believed to be the first case of its kind, Alban Fellows and Stephen Arnold are charged under the Protection of Children Act and the Obscene Publications Act in connection with distributing child pornography from the collection through the Internet.

Birmingham Crown Court was told how Fellows, 26, from Moseley in Birmingham, worked as a research assistant in the plasma melting unit at the University of Birmingham where he had access to the main computer. He was a skilled computer operator and trusted by the university to install and maintain computers.

But, unknown to the authorities, he attached a hard disk memory to the university's main computer where he stored his library of pornography, a collection he named

Melbourne Inman, for the prosecution, told the court: "Mr Fellows had a library, a library of pornography. It wasn't just anyone who could use it, you had to have a library ticket and Mr Fellows was the man from whom you had to get the ticket. You would usually have to have another ticket holder vouch for you. Access to this library was only for those who could be trusted. If you provided enough you would see it all. Mr Fellows clearly was effectively using a system of `what have you before I let you look at my stuff'. That was how it worked."

Mr Fellows is charged with possessing four indecent pictures of children which he intended to distribute. He is also accused of possessing two obscene pictures of adults stored on his computer hard disk.

Mr Arnold, 24, from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, worked as a graphics co-ordinator for Hughes Network Systems Limited in the town.

He is charged with distributing three of the indecent pictures of children to Fellows through his computer, between February and April 1994. Both men deny all the charges.

In April 1994, police arrested Mr Fellows at Birmingham University and seized his hard disk. He admitted having pornography in the computer and accepted sole responsibility for the library. In September 1994, police arrested Mr Arnold at his Milton Keynes office and copied files from his computer.

Mr Inman said the pictures downloaded by computer by Mr Arnold to Mr Fellows were copies taken from Lolita, a pornographic magazine which included indecent pictures of children. They sent each other coded E-mail messages to discuss the pictures. Mr Arnold was allowed to become a ticket holder to the library in return for the photographs.

Mr Fellows sent Mr Arnold an E-mail in March 1994 after receiving copies of the photographs. "The messages make it clear what was being sent," Mr Inman said.

The case continues.

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