Clergyman 'looked at child porn in vicarage'

A married clergyman repeatedly accessed pornographic images of children on his computer while working on church-related business at his vicarage, a jury heard today.

Stafford Crown Court was told that the Reverend Dominic Stone searched the internet for children's activities linked to the Epiphany on the same day that he is accused of downloading indecent images.



Stone, of Marchington, near Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, denies 16 specimen counts of making indecent photographs of children on January 7 and 8 2009.



Opening the case against the Church of England vicar, prosecutor Michelle Heeley said the 47-year-old's computer was seized by police in January last year and was examined by a specialist, who discovered hundreds of pornographic images of adults and children.



The court heard that Stone, a father of two adult sons, gave a number of explanations to investigators as to why the material was there.



Ms Heeley told the jury: "The defence accept that the indecent images of children exist on this defendant's computer, but it is their case that somebody else must have accessed them."



The Crown alleges that Stone, whose wife was at work, was the only person with access to the computer and that evidence showed he used it for "legitimate purposes" at around the time the images of children were downloaded.



Ms Heeley told jurors: "Whoever was looking at these (images) didn't just accidentally stumble across them - they saw the image and they looked at it again.



"The only person at the vicarage at that time was this defendant.



"There was nobody else at the vicarage at that time that could have physically accessed that computer."



Stone, the team vicar of Marchington, Marchington Woodlands, Kingstone and Leigh, accepts that he was the only person who accessed the computer for work.



In police interviews, the court heard, the vicar suggested that someone else may have had a key for the vicarage or that the computer may have been infected by a virus.



But Ms Heeley told the court: "No one else had a key to the vicarage.



"The prosecution say that the only person it could possibly be is this defendant."