Patrick Rock: Former aide to David Cameron avoids jail over indecent child photos

The 65-year-old with a previously 'unblemished history' has been handed a conditional discharge

Adam Withnall
Thursday 02 June 2016 10:30 BST
Patrick Rock downloaded the images during a trip to the US in 2013
Patrick Rock downloaded the images during a trip to the US in 2013 (Rex Features)

Patrick Rock, a former aide to David Cameron, has avoided jail after being found guilty of five counts of downloading indecent images of young children.

The 65-year-old has been given a two-year conditional discharge, meaning he will not be sentenced unless a further offence is committed within that period.

Rock downloaded 20 images on his iPad during a visit to the US in August 2013, showing young girls in "sexualised" poses wearing bras and swimwear.

Prosecutors said the youngest of the girls in the pictures was just 10 years and four months old when the image was downloaded, meaning she would have been younger when it was taken.

But Rock, who was appointed as the Prime Minister's deputy director of policy in 2011, argued that the images were not indecent.

Police in the US decided not to prosecute Rock because they had found there was no "child pornography" involved, in the words of his lawyer Sasha Wass QC.

His defence also argued that Rock had been visiting the US after the death of his mother, and that at the time of the offences he had been "sad, angry and holding on to the fact he had not been with mum when she died".

The jury at the trial at Southwark Crown Court was asked to deliberate on charges for each of the 20 images.

After eight hours of deliberation, they found him guilty by majority verdict on five counts, acquitted him of three others, and were unable to agree on the remaining 12. Those charges will lie on file.

Rock will be required to register as a sex offender for the duration of his conditional discharge, and was banned from accessing the internet without retaining a browsing history that can be handed to police upon request.

Sentencing, judge Alistair McCreath said: "I have not lost sight of the obvious reality that right-thinking people will quite properly consider that those who did what you did should be punished for it.

"You should be. And you have been. The punishment for you is the loss of your reputation and your very public humiliation. It is a punishment which you brought on yourself, but is nonetheless a very real one. And it is one that is utterly merited."

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