Child porn officer 'killed himself'

 

A police officer committed suicide after being arrested for downloading child pornography, an inquest heard today.

Sergeant John Skilling, 50, who served with Gloucestershire Police, was on bail after being questioned by his own force investigating the trade in child sex abuse images.

The body of Mr Skilling was discovered on the morning of November 20 last year by a family friend in the garage of his home in Hucclecote, Gloucester, the county's coroner's court heard.

The day before his death Mr Skilling, who was widowed, told his children he was planning a night out socialising with friends and they should sleep at their friends' homes.

Gregory Owen, a family friend, discovered the policeman's body having been alerted by Mr Skilling's eldest daughter.

The inquest also heard that Mr Skilling's wife had died from cancer when their two children were young and since then he had brought them up alone, suffering from bouts of depression and drinking heavily.

In the weeks before he died, Mr Skilling, who had served with Gloucestershire Police for over 20 years, had told his GP he had trouble sleeping and was seeking professional help from an alcohol service.

The court heard evidence of the police investigation into Mr Skilling, who had worked as head of his force's schools unit.

Police went to his home on September 13 with a warrant after receiving information from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

"At the commencement of the search it became clear a computer in John Skilling's bedroom was operating and was in the process of downloading files with titles they suggested contained indecent images of children," Detective Inspector Mark Little said in a written statement.

"As a result of this and comments made by John Skilling he was arrested on suspicion of making, possession and distribution of indecent images of children between March 22 2009 and September 13 2011."

In his interview later that day Mr Skilling admitted downloading indecent photographs and movies of children and said this had begun two or three years previously.

However, he denied having a sexual interest in children or abusing any child linked to his position as a police officer.

Computers and other equipment were seized from his home and a detailed forensic examination discovered a total of 7,730 indecent photographs - ranging from Level One to Five - and 57 movie clips - ranging from Level One to Four.

There were also encrypted documents of typed stories depicting the rape, abuse and abduction of children.

The analysis suggested that the first indecent images had been downloaded in 2007.

Mr Skilling was later bailed pending further inquiries. On October 14, he resigned from the police.

On November 10 he answered bail and was further interviewed by officers.

He admitted responsibility for downloading all the material recovered by the police from his home.

"John Skilling denied any sexual arousal from downloading these child abuse images and stated it was a thrill because he knew the images were illicit," Mr Little said.

"John Skilling also admitted downloading and reading stories of child abuse, child rape and child abduction but could not explain why he had done this.

"The district crown prosecutor reviewed the evidence and reported that had John Skilling not died there was sufficient evidence to charge him with criminal offences."

The court heard that the allegations against Mr Skilling did not involve anything to do with his work as a police officer.

A post-mortem examination found that Mr Skilling died from a "high level" of carbon monoxide poisoning.

And blood tests revealed an alcohol level slightly above the legal drink-drive limit.

Deputy Gloucestershire Coroner David Dooley said the notes Mr Skilling left had given details to his daughters of his financial affairs and funeral arrangements.

"Of the notes that were found, they gave his suicidal intent and also an element of the detailed arrangements of his financial affairs to be notified to his children, telling them where assets were held," he said.

Mr Dooley said the evidence before him was strong enough to enable him to record a verdict of suicide.

"The evidence here is of a man who suffers from anxiety and depression of a long-term nature following the death of his wife from cancer," he said.

"More particularly following on from the discovery of his illegal actions on his home computer.

"He retired from his position as a police sergeant and one must assume he retired before he lost that position.

"He knew he was facing prosecution in light of both his actions and his admissions.

"It would appear that he could not face the predicament he had left himself in and that was exhibited in the notes to his children.

"Either that he could not face the personal shame that he felt or cope with the pain that he realised his actions would cause to his family.

"I believe on the evidence I can be sure of his intent to take his own life and also dismiss any other possibility to the cause of his death."

None of Mr Skilling's family was present in court today.

PA

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Developer (TSQL, SSRS, SSAS) Fund Manager - London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...

Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, Angular.JS)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, An...

Front-End UI/UX Developer (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Ang

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...

C#.NET Server Side Developer (C#, XML, WCF, Unit Testing,SQL)

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition