A POLICEMAN has been sacked and jailed for two years after distributing indecent images of young boys.
Paul Hancock-French, who was based in Coventry, had pleaded guilty to three charges of distributing indecent images of children, four of making indecent images of children and one of illegally possessing a CS gas canister.
The 39-year-old was also ordered him to register as a sex offender for ten years and imposed a sexual offences prevention order preventing him deleting any internet searches between police inspections of his computer for ten years.
The court heard Hancock-French worked in West Midlands Police’s public protection unit and had applied to work as a sex offenders manager at the time of his arrest last year.
Prosecutor Nicholas Burn said Cheshire Police received information from their counterparts in the US which led to the arrest of a man in Cheshire. His computer was examined and officers found an email exchange with a man who, after enquiries, it was discovered was Hancock-French during which they sent each other explicit pictures of young boys.
Officers went to his home in Nuneaton where he lived with his partner, who had come across some images in the past, but he had believed they were to do with the defendant’s work.
When questioned, Hancock-French admitted he had a sexual interest in children aged between eight and 13, which was reflected in the ages of the boys in the images. He said he had accessed online chat rooms over a number of years, including gay cruising sites, during which sexually explicit discussions took place which moved on to discuss the abuse of young boys.
Michelle Heeley, defending, said Hancock-French suffered from depression, and had thrown away his ten-year exemplary career and lost his partner for a while as a result.
“If he is placed in custody as a former serving police officer, with his condition and with this conviction, he would be very vulnerable indeed,” she added.
But Judge Sylvia de Bertodano said: “His position as a police officer works against him as well. Someone in that sort of role has an even greater obligation not to act in this way.”
She told him: “Someone like you who has this position of trust within the community is doubly obliged not to commit offences. You were involved in the safeguarding of children and were applying for a position as a sex offenders’ manager.
“I accept that to some extent you have faced your demons and are doing your best to deal with the issues which led to this offending, but this is one of those cases where public policy has to outweigh your personal considerations.”