GUILTY WAS the verdict from a crown court jury for a Saddleworth Parish Councillor facing charges of downloading indecent images of young boys.
Paul Michael Buckley, 67, appeared at Minshull Street Manchester Crown Court charged with 17 counts of making or possessing indecent images of naked boys aged six to 17 years old.
16 counts related to the making of – referring in these instances to downloading – specific images while count 17 related to the possession of 296 images.
The jury unanimously found Buckley, who is an independent Saddleworth Parish Councillor, guilty of the first 16 counts, but the 17th count was discharged for legal reasons.
Buckley, from Dobcross, must sign the Sex Offenders’ Register, pay hefty legal fees and his sentence will be given on January 13 but he was told by the judge he will not face a prison term.
His Honour Judge Jonathan Foster QC said: “It is a serious offence in that it involves pictures that have been found to be indecent – but it is really at the lowest end of this sort of offence.
“The effect on this man is going to be considerable and I don’t see him as being somebody who is going to indulge in this sort of thing again.”
The images were discovered after police executed a search warrant at Buckley’s home in March 2014 and seized computers, hard drives, memory sticks and an Iphone.
During the trial, the court was told the defendant admitted in an interview with DC Gilmartin from Greater Manchester Police to downloading the images but he believed them not to be indecent.
A selection of still and moving images alleged to be indecent were selected by the prosecution and defence to be shown to the court.
They included images of naked boys in groups or individually swimming in a pool, playing with water blasters, skinny dipping, and playing sports.
No evidence was given by Buckley before the barristers and Judge Foster QC gave their summaries of the evidence.
Juliet Berry, prosecuting, urged the jury to think about how they would feel if a member of their family appeared in the pictures or film.
Then Sarah Reade, defending, insisted any preconceived ideas or prejudices should be put to one side and argued the pictures displayed no sexual acts or touching.
Judge Foster QC added: “We have not heard from the defendant – but he can not add anything. His motivation is irrelevant.”
He advised the jury to consider the images in context and added nudity is not necessarily in itself indecent, referencing great works of art and popular film and play the Calendar Girls.
And he asked the jury to question if these were the sort of images seen day to day and if they would show them to their children as they came to their verdict.