Northern Ireland news

Ex-PSNI officer jailed over indecent images of children on computer

Ainscough was sentenced at Craigavon Crown Court

A DISGRACED former police officer who was found with more than 16,000 indecent images of children when he was being investigated for exchanging sexually explicit messages and images with three different women while on duty has been jailed.

Sacked PSNI Constable 34-year-old Robert Jason Ainscough was given a nine month sentence for misconduct in public office and a four and a half month sentence for the offences relating to indecent photos and videos of children.

Craigavon Crown Court Judge Roseanne McCormick QC told Ainscough he would spend half the sentence in custody with the rest on supervised licence on his release.

Ainscough, originally from Dublin but whose address was given as c/o Lurgan PSNI station, faced two separate indictments where he had pleaded guilty to six counts of misconduct in public office on one and 13 charges of making indecent images of children on the other with all the offences committed in various dates between February 19 2014 and September 16 2016.

The court heard that in relation to the misconduct charges, how Ainscough exchanged “highly sexually explicit” messages, including texts, photographs and videos with three different women while on duty.

Ainscough had also taken screenshots of a file of a man he claimed he was about to arrest, sending the image to one of the women quipping that his arrest subject “looked like a kung fu master.”

In another instance of misconduct, Ainscough had taken screenshots of a police file relating to a parking dispute, engaging in texts that “made fun of the police report.”

Prosecuting counsel Nicola Auret had told the court how the offences were brought to light in September 2016 when one of the women sent the messages she had received from Ainscough to the Craigavon PSNI Facebook page.

While the woman declined to make a statement of formal complaint, she allowed investigating officer to take screen shots of her phone.

Ainscough was arrested and his iPhone 6 was seized for examination which uncovered the fact he had been sending and receiving sexually explicit messages, photos and videos with three different women while on duty.

Ms Auret described how the photos and videos were taken by Ainscough in the toilets of Banbridge and Lurgan PSNI stations while he was in full uniform and his private parts exposed.

A matter to be taken into consideration, said the lawyer, was that “all the texting was consensual” and none of the women had filed formal complaints.

It was that misconduct investigation however that led police to seize computer hard drives and memory sticks from Ainscough’s home and the court heard that when those items were examined, detectives found a total of 16,681 indecent images of children spread across ten devices including pen drivers, memory stick, lap tops and hard drives.

Ms Auret outlined how the large majority, some 16,673 images and videos, had been classified in the lowest category C, with eight being classified as B.

In an impassioned plea in mitigation, defence QC Charles McCreanor conceded that while “it’s his own fault,” Ainscough has “effectively lost everything.”

Jailing Ainscough however Judge McCormick told Ainscough his offences indicated a “sustained pattern of offending” and revealed the various reports compiled on Ainscough assessed him as “high likelihood of reoffending".

PSNI detective chief inspector Lee McNevison said: “This was a serious crime, and more shocking given the individual’s prior occupation. I hope this sentencing sends out a clear message to anyone, no matter what their profession, who thinks they can get away with this type of crime. We will work tirelessly to bring offenders before the courts so that victims receive the justice they deserve.”

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