A former Bognor Regis town councillor downloaded indecent images of children over four years before police raided his home.
Daniel Barnes, 40, accessed ‘vile’ images of children while he worked as a police officer with Sussex Police, a court heard today.
The images were found when police raided an address in Bognor in 2017.
Barnes, of Storrington Road in Thakeham appeared at Worthing Magistrates’ Court today for sentencing, after pleading guilty to six offences earlier this month.
However magistrates decided that the offences were so serious that Barnes should be sent to Crown Court, where judges have far greater sentencing powers.
Appearing in court earlier this month, Barnes pleaded guilty to the following charges:
- Make indecent photograph of a child: one category A image (the most serious category)
- Make indecent photograph of a child: four category B images
- Make indecent photograph of a child: 180 category C images
- Possess a prohibited image of a child: 23 images
- Distribute an indecent image of a child: three category C images
- Possess an extreme pornographic image involving an animal: five images, according to the lists
At a previous hearing, district judge Amanda Kelly said that even though he had viewed images of children, the offences were still very serious.
She said: “Real children have been subjected to the most awful, vile abuse.”
Prosecutor Gaynor Byng told the court today: “Sussex Police received information indicating that indecent images of children had been shared from a computer at an address in Bognor on an online software sharing system.
“Mr Barnes was living at the address at the time with his partner.”
Barnes, who was a serving Bognor Regis town councillor when police raided his home in 2017, was arrested and interviewed by police.
Officers found a total of 185 indecent images of children on devices attributed to Barnes, the court heard.
They also found evidence that the former police officer had passed on three indecent images of children via Skype.
Barnes resigned from Bognor Regis Town Council for ‘personal reasons’ in January 2018.
The court heard he had downloaded the images over a four year period. This partially overlaps with his time in Sussex Police, which he resigned from in 2016.
Barnes initially denied the offences, but later made full admissions in his second police interview, the court heard.
Richard Wormald, defending Barnes, said: “The court needs to look at what this really is. Nearly everything in this case is category C.
“There are three occasions in that four years where there has been an image passed on - that is extremely limited.”
Mr Wormald said Barnes is ‘deeply ashamed’ of his offending and has taken steps to try and address the issues in his life.
He added: “To impose a custodial sentence on him would be to take rather a fragile man who is beginning to put the pieces back together and reduce him to someone who is lost.”
Mr Wormald called for Barnes to be given credit for his previous public service as a police officer.
Chairman of the bench Matthew Irish, presiding over the case, said that the magistrates had decided that the offences are so serious that Barnes should be sentenced by a Crown Court.
Judges at Crown Court have far greater sentencing powers than those at magistrates’ court.
Barnes will appear at Portsmouth Crown Court for sentencing in January.
A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “Barnes is an ex-Sussex PC but the alleged offending is unconnected with that employment.
“He resigned from the force in 2016 of his own accord, not due to this investigation over which he was arrested in 2017.
“The images are all understood to have come from the internet and there is nothing to suggest that there is any risk to local children.”