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
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
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

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam