Shel­ter worker had child abuse im­ages

32-year-old char­ity boss said he was a‘vig­i­lante'

Lennox Herald - - NEWS - Court re­porter

230715CATS_16 An an­i­mal shel­ter boss caught with 500 in­de­cent im­ages of chil­dren claimed he was a vig­i­lante try­ing to ex­pose sexual abusers.

Adam Downs was caught red handed af­ter po­lice raided the home he shared with his fam­ily — on the site of the Scot­tish SPCA re­hom­ing cen­tre in Dum­bar­ton.

The for­mer as­sis­tant man­ager lost his high pro­file po­si­tion caring for aban­doned and ne­glected an­i­mals for the char­ity when he was ar­rested last year.

The 32-year-old went on to claim he had been go­ing through a “vig­i­lante phase” in an ef­fort to track down the child abusers of a woman he knew.

But last week, Dum­bar­ton Sher­iff Court heard that the im­ages he had been look­ing at some of which were in the most ex­treme cat­e­gory - de­scribed chil­dren of dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties and couldn’t have re­ferred to the woman he men­tioned.

Downs ad­mit­ted ob­tain­ing in­de­cent pho­tos of chil­dren, as well as hav­ing the im­ages in his pos­ses­sion be­tween March 29, 2005 and June 13, 2016.

David McDon­ald, fis­cal de­pute, told how po­lice of­fi­cers ar­rived at his home on the site of the cen­tre at 7.50am on June 13 last year.

He said: “The ac­cused was present in the lo­cus at the time.

“A law­ful search was com­menced and two discs named ‘graph­ics new and old’ and ‘graph­ics disc 2’ and a mini HD cam­era and phone were seized for ex­am­i­na­tion.

“Of­fi­cers from the cyber crime unit con­ducted a pre­view ex­am­i­na­tion and dur­ing the ex­am­i­na­tion they found in­de­cent im­ages of chil­dren on the two discs.

“At 11.15am he was de­tained and made no re­ply.”

Downs was in­ter­viewed at a po­lice sta­tion, where he told of­fi­cers he had been search­ing for an at­tacker.

Mr McDon­ald con­tin­ued: “He stated that [the woman] had been sex­u­ally abused as a child and he was seek­ing im­ages of her which may have been taken by the abuser. He said he was look­ing for ev­i­dence which would help her case.

“He de­scribed this as a vig­i­lante phase.

“It was put to him that the [im­ages] had ti­tles like 15-yearold Rus­sian teen model and Thai teen.

“He ac­cepted they were un­likely to be [the woman].”

Of­fi­cers in the cyber crime unit ex­am­ined the seized equip­ment and found 264 in­de­cent im­ages of chil­dren on the two discs, as well as a video — all classed as cat­e­gory C.

They found an­other 254 im­ages on a stor­age card in the mini cam­era — 50 of which were of the most se­ri­ous cat­e­gory.

There were also seven cat­e­gory C im­ages dis­cov­ered on the phone, but these had been deleted and were no longer ac­ces­si­ble to Downs.

In­de­cent im­ages are cat­e­gorised by three lev­els, from A to C, with A be­ing the most se­ri­ous.

Sher­iff Maxwell Hendry de­ferred sen­tenc­ing un­til April 19 for a back­ground so­cial work re­port, telling Downs: “This is clearly po­ten­tially a very se­ri­ous mat­ter and I need to know as much about you as pos­si­ble to se­lect the ap­pro­pri­ate penalty.”

Speak­ing last week, Mike Flynn Scot­tish SPCA Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent, con­firmed that Downs was no longer em­ployed by the char­ity.

He said that when they learned Downs had been ar­rested he was "im­me­di­ately sus­pended".

Guilty Adam Downs pic­tured at work with kit­tens in the Scot­tish SPCA re­hom­ing cen­tre in Mil­ton, Dum­bar­ton

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