back to article Librarian of child abuse networking site jailed indefinitely

A UK man who ran an online child abuse image library that served as a meeting place for paedophiles was jailed indefinitely on Monday. Philip Anthony Thompson, 27, of Stockton-on-Tees, was convicted of holding a library of 241,000 indecent images of kids, ranging in explicitness from the borderline legal to clearly obscene. …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Be afraid, say people whose jobs depend on your fear

    Faceparty's front page says everything that needs to be said on this subject.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    good show,

    That's what I like, good, targeted, inevstigation, evidence gathering. Glad they got the f-----r and hope they get his compatriates too. Just hope that they use good police work on those people too.

    None of that throwing a sausage down an alley hoping it may hit the sides unlike Operation Awe, mass filtering, packet inspection, and other dragnets.

  3. Marvin the Martian
    IT Angle

    And Dewey?

    I think we should be told what system he was using to index the 2*10^5 images.

    I don't remember Dewey reserving a default index 0 (legal) so these #*$&#s could qualify their categories 1 (unacceptable, illegal) to 5 (scarring the viewer for life).

  4. Rick Eastwood


    Thats one of THE MOST UNFUNNY things ive ever seen.

    Its not that was sick or anything its was just shite !!!!

  5. Liam

    good to see....

    that a paedo like this is seen in the eys of the law as about as bad as soemone who smokes pot - similar sentences for posession of anything more than a few doobies...

    good to see paedophiles in the same category as people who do no harm to society at all...

    i say stick em in prison general population and let the cons do us all a favour... why the hell should people like him get protection more than anyone else!

  6. Harry Stottle

    What Pisses Me Off Most About Paedophiles that they give the Police State the one plausible argument they need for "Total Surveillance". Even Terrorism doesn't attract as much support for its countermeasures as does Paedophilia. Hence, if we want to keep the State out of our lives, we're going to have to figure out for ourselves what we do to prevent Paedophiles abusing this medium (the web). And then, do it.


  7. Anonymous Coward

    English gulag's?

    When did indefinite sentences come in to fashion in the West? I thought they were limited to less... enlightened governments.

  8. Squits

    We can't police this :(

    If we tried to setup our own anti-peado unit, how would we get around using a forum for people to report things they find? Making it password protected makes it worse.

    How DO the people police this themselves properly?

    Are we supposed to just rely on telling the coppers and then having your HDD confiscated for seven days or indefinitely?

  9. Throatwobbler Mangrove Silver badge


    I'm a bit confused about the (reported) "indefinite" sentence given to the convict. I thought indefinite sentences (as opposed to very long sentences with the possibility of parole, about which a decision is to be made at a later time) were not possible in England & Wales.

    IANAL, so is anyone here better qualified to comment? Or is it just sloppy reporting?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    THAT's what pisses you off most about paedophiles? You need to get some perspective! Perhaps the support anti-paedophile measures attracts should be a red flag to you that you are perhaps missing the point somewhere along the line!

    Paris - because she wouldn't have a clue what she was talking about either!

  11. David Wilkinson

    self taught, I bet he left all the loggin enabled!

    They police likely now have a nice record of ip addresses of people who uploaded and downloaded illegal images .... they should be able to pull off a large number of follow up arrests.

    They can then use evidence from confiscated computers to find more sites ... make more arrests.

    I hope they take the ball and really run with this one.....

  12. David Barr
    Thumb Up

    This is good news

    Clearly it's not good news that this abuse ring existed. But it is good news that the Police have done their job to a high level.

    I do not believe it would make an impact to, for example, put a paedo image on p2p and arrest people downloading it. Nor would it make an impact to put up a fake site and go after people who subscribed to it.

    The people who cause the abuse are the ones who reward the abusers. So that means people who pay for images with cash, or ad views, or in kind by trading other images. It is these people that need to be identified and imprisoned.

    I'm not attempting to condone anyone who simply consumes the material. And I am certainly not trying to make a case that someone who goes to every reasonable length to avoid paying for it in any form with the defence of "I did nothing to cause child abuse". However going for the easy targets will just encourage paedos to operate in rings such as this.

    I'd imagine the police could get a whole lot of easy arrests and have no impact on child abuse if they did it the wrong way, so I am very pleased that they are doing it the right way and getting the important arrests.

    I did read (and I'm afraid I can't remember where) a rather disturbing, but enlightening article with an interview with a paedophile in it. The paedo in this article had openly confessed to being aroused by kids, and said he would never act on it, or endanger children, but that his sexual preferences were his sexual preferences. The disturbing thing is what do we do about it as a society? It seems unfair to punish someone for something outside their control, but it's also entirely unacceptable to put children in danger.

  13. Charles Manning

    @David Barr

    Is paedo outside their control or is this just a weasly excuse? No more do we see shoplifters, burglars and muggers as criminals but now as poor victims of some terrible affliction that causes them to perform these acts.

    Thankfully society does provide a therapeutic facility where these people can work through their problems. It is called prison.

  14. Throatwobbler Mangrove Silver badge

    I am sceptical (or is it skeptical?) that...

    ...prison is a therapeutic setting for anyone, especially for those whose crimes are not driven by laziness or avarice.

  15. David Barr

    @Charles Manning

    Do I think that someone who finds little girls sexually attractive is a danger do kids? Of course I do. But we'd have to be the thought police to send them to prison.

    The disturbing thing that I'm talking about is what do we do about it? Thought police is clearly unacceptable, but I'm equally uneasy about doing nothing until they molest children.

    I don't know if it's an excuse or not, I'm certainly not qualified to be the judge of that.

  16. Cucumber C Face
    Paris Hilton

    Borderline legality?

    This guy was clearly a case and seems to have been involved in far worse than trading images. Lock, key, throw!

    However that images of a crime alone (including faked depictions or even cartoons) are illegal discomforts me as much as the Nu Labour equation "downloading the al-Quaeda manual=turrurist".

    Charges are always brought on a small number of specimen images - this approach is needed for legal manageability and minimises the exposure of the court to offensive material. However it does allow the media to spout "n million paedophile images were found" when in reality the number of images featuring underage individuals may be tiny. Note also that images of plainly post-pubertal 16-18 yers olds also count as illegal.

    In this context what constitutes 'borderline' material - 30 year olds in school uniform and ponytails?

    This hands the police the option "if we can't get the b#gg#r on anything else we'll always find a couple of dodgy blurred thumbnails in the browser cache and nail them anyway." You may recall their highly successful attempt to divert public outrage at the police shooting of the innocent, unarmed and naked non-terrorist Abdul Kahar in 2006 with child pr0n charges which subsequently could not be sustained.

    So unless all your pr0n comes with a readily verifiable link to the age of the models be afraid.. be very afraid. Even if you aren't charged your reputation is (if not your body) is shot .

    Paris because she can be custodian of my records any day.

  17. Herby

    The arrest is good, but...

    Perhaps the police might get nicer results by getting to a root cause of some of this junk. The people who spam for a living (with similar marginal legalities) are free to roam, but the other online activities that are classified as "really bad" are prosecuted (most likely due to high profile!)? If we have one broken window, the rest will follow, and since spam is allowed to exist, the broken windows will continue to happen.

    Fact of life, sorry to say.

  18. heystoopid

    And Yet !

    And yet the real modern day war criminals who roam freely spouting racism , religious intolerance and other assorted evil propaganda amongst us today and would have been hanged at Nuremberg in another more enlightened time less then one hundred years ago ! These wowsers and wankers responsible for even worse depravities against fellow human beings along with deliberate abuses of civil liberties(say Tony B. , Ian B. , Little Johnny the forgotten one and George B. , why are you still unpunished for your crimes against humanity ?) and numerous other equally vile criminal activities remain free and at large fully protected by their own fellow serving and former greedy pigs called democratically elected politicians , so go figure !

    What price freedom and civil liberties and the correct punishments and not the cruel and unusual that is given free reign to fit the crime for all in the new 21st century where fear and propaganda rule just like that fatal summer in a placed called Berlin in 1933 ?

    Interesting concept a life sentence for a crime involving mental illness , obsessive manic depression or past childhood and/or abuse in school yards from fellow students , teachers or authority figures which does not involve murder or very deliberate torture of fellow humans and yet war criminals killing tens of thousands of fellow humans remain free to commit their crimes again and again as often as they choose , what a crazy mixed up world we live in indeed , our priorities are truly screwed up indeed in this new century where propaganda rules supreme absolutely !

  19. Steve Taylor

    n million

    > Charges are always brought on a small number of specimen images - this approach is needed for legal manageability and minimises the exposure of the court to offensive material. However it does allow the media to spout "n million paedophile images were found" when in reality the number of images featuring underage individuals may be tiny.

    This reminds me of something I heard in a radio interview with a psychologist who deals with pedophiles. He pointed out that the "n million images" stuff that the papers love to crow about is the *normal* part of their psychological makeup.

    I'm law abiding and sexually conventional - but my house is filled with stacks of science fiction paperbacks - more than I can actually find time to read - and I keep buying more. And somewhere near you right now is someone who is a compulsive yarn buyer, despite the fact that she's got entire cupboards full of wool she's never touched.

    Humans are compulsive hoarders. Why I've even heard there are people who collect little paper postage stickers!

  20. skeptical i

    CRB check?

    Pursuant to yesterday's Reg article "Malicious gossip could cost you your job", does anyone know if the perp in this case had to get a CRB check as a condition of employment (or whatever) and, if so, did he pass? If not, would he have?

  21. Fozzy
    Thumb Up

    Follow Up's

    Great news another sicko locked up. Now hopefully because this guy was apaprently an amateur the investigators will be able to identify those that logged in and traded in the images it would be nice to see a whole parade of these bastards walking into a prison and not seen again for a long, long time

    @ Harry Skottle

    You seriously need to re-evaluate your priorities and your values if the possibility of a police state is your main concern over paedophilia

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @ everyone

    Reading all the comments here its easy to see how the UK goverment can get away with all the crap that it is. Even here where people are aware of the Terrorist/peado scare... its actually working. Just because people think about something or get arroused by it dosent mean that they are a danger to it.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    @David Barr, Charles Manning

    If he's not done anything wrong but fears he may, the correct thing to do- rather than just imprison because "he could be a nonce in a few years" is to find a subtle way of working round the issue. Sticking him on the Sex Offenders Register for public urination or something relatively inoccuous that he'd agree to- but that wouldn't cause the mass hysteria "potential paedophile" would- would be a good first step; it'd keep him away from jobs involving children- lowering the chances of him offending.

    People being able to confess to this sort of thing without being witch-hunted would be another good policy. That way if they found they _were_ feeling that way but didn't want to act on it because another bit of their personality found it abhorrant (or they just didn't want to act on it and get locked up), they may be able to get actual productive help for these feelings, preventing them becoming a vile kiddie-fiddler. Same sort of thing as you'd do with a fat-ass who can't stop thinking about chocolate and pies. By trying to understand these people we can "fix" them rather than just incarcerating them permenantly.

    Prison isn't the answer for those who fear they may do something wrong in the future. Education, support and probably a course of meds would, however, do the trick. Keep them good rather than assume they'll turn bad. I mean your'e clearly violently opposed to paedophilia, right? So we should lock you up for being a violent risk to society by your logic.

    As soon as you offend (with actual paedophilic acts rather than ephebophile which is probably less frowned on- and even encouraged in a lot of popular media.), though, you should be severely punished, with the severity based on the physical damage done to the child and the psychological damage caused by your acts and 30 years of counselling being told you're just a poor powerless victim and he was evil.

    I'm glad the guy in the story was caught (right in my home town, too- no, I didn't know him), and I hope that many more paedos- especially the sort who're so bloody proud of it they post pics (and presumably videos) of themselves "in action"- are caught. And hung, drawn and quartered while the public has it burned into their consciousness that if they feel these feelings they're to go get "fixed" before they act or this'll happen to them.

    I guess the rule for this- as well as burgalry and Manning's other examples- could be "You're only a victim of your condition until you victimise someone else. Then your'e criminal scum."

  24. Matt Owen

    Is he REALLY a Librarian ?

    Was this guy an actual Librarian ? if not, please don't call him one. You wouldn't call someone who sits at the back of a court room all day a Lawyer, or someone who balances their bank accounts an Accountant would you?

    A Librarian is a qualified (and sometimes chartered) recognised professional, just the same as Lawyers, Accountants, Architects etc..

    Sorry to nit pick, but I live with a Chartered Librarian so I know how unjustly the world views their profession.

  25. Dave

    Brass Eye 2

    Usual hysteria. The article incorrectly assumes people looking at these pictures are child abusers, and actually calls them so: "allowing it to exist as a forum for child abusers".

    Reads like a Sun article.

  26. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. Andrew Thomas

    Filming of kids

    Do you know you're not allowed to take photos at swimming pools or school sports days anymore? Not even of your own kids? But in the recent Olympics we had 14 year old diver Tom Daley basically in his underwear and being filmed by the BBC. So it's just all double standards and nonsense. There's people in the councils & schools just jumping on the anti-paedo bandwagon and there's just no consistency or logic in their approach.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    1: Paedophilia is a crime.

    2: Paedophilia is a psychological condition.

    3: Central Government, Police and Local Government have different and inconsistent approaches to dealing with it and different rules about taking images of children, rules about playgrounds, who is allowed to work with kids etc.

    To 1 and 2 An approach needs to be worked out abouit how much we deal with the condition and how much we deal with the crime. That doesn't seem to be being done by anyone at the moment. Certainly the vetting procedure CRB and ECRB is pants and worse, unreliable.

    To 3 - a consistent policy needs to be enforced, preferably hysteria free (Sun readers need not comment ) The best source for that would be central government, getting academic, legal and police advice on a strategy - oh and getting metrics - how will you know if it works otherwise - all too often the problem with social policy.

    Or am I being naive?

  29. Tony Paulazzo


    Hey, if you're watching the olympics in China then you are tacitly agreeing with gross human rights abuses and paedophilia, the age of consent there is 14. Check it out...

    Pedophilia from the Chinese Perspective

    Emil M.L.Ng

    Department of Psychiatry, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Andrew Thomas

    Don't know where you live mate, but I was able to take pics of my lad running his little legs off at his school sports day - Indeed his school actually make a point of telling eeryone that photos are expected to be taken.

  31. Tom Turck

    Joseph Edward Duncan III << Indefinite imprisonment

    Joseph Edward Duncan III was a released pedophile. Maybe if he was in jail indefinitely a family in Idaho family would be alive:

  32. Andy

    What bugs me

    AFAIC if society decides that it's illegal to look at pornographic images of children, that's fine. (Broadly speaking. For example, it seems to me it would be more logical to ban making such images, instead; but, still.)

    What bugs me, though, is the conflation of such a crime with the crime of raping/abusing children. Clearly they are not the same thing. And I'm pretty sure that one is a more serious crime than the other.

    It seems to me that we've made "being" a paedophile a crime. That bugs me, too. "Being" a bank-robber or a murderer is not a crime; it's murdering and robbing banks that is.

  33. Throatwobbler Mangrove Silver badge

    yeah but no but yeah

    "Maybe if he was in jail indefinitely a family in Idaho family would be alive"

    Possibly - but leaving the moral/legal/justice aspects aside (!), whenever you lock people up you're incurring costs that mean you can't spend money elsewhere. I have no idea what the cost is in Idaho, but in Florida it's $20k a year and it's $28k a year in Washington State (it's on google, so it must be true).

    So is it better to lock hundreds of people up on the offchance that they might do something, or to spend that money on investigating the crimes that have already happened? I suppose it depends how likely they are to commit a crime again. It's a dismal question from the dismal science...

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bugs me

    To what extent does looking at images of child abuse (which is what many of these images are) make one complicit in the crime being photographed? So, while this person may never have touched a child in a sexual way before, their consumption of images of children engaged in sexual activity with an adult is highly problematical if not criminal. Trading in such images could be considered to encourage their production and therefore the crime they depict - therefore they are criminally complicit.

    So, while we might all decry the notion of the thought police, actually seeking out and trading such images arguably moves this beyond the realm of a 'thought crime'. With a 'thought crime' there is no physical evidence, no victim. It's when one attempts to realise or materialise the thought that it becomes a subject for criminal investigation because victims become involved.

    On a practical level, I've always thought that possession one or two dodgy images on a hard drive does not make one a criminal - perhaps just a curious person or an unfortunate or naive surfer. Several hundred or more makes one a probable suspect for criminal investigation.

  35. Andy
    Thumb Up

    @bugs me

    My point was, it may well be a crime, but it's not *the same* crime.

    It may even be that one crime usually leads to the other, but that doesn't make them the same.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Child Abuse Images

    Can we please, please stop using this as a synonym for child pornography? It's blatant newspeak designed to corrupt your thinking. Certainly, some child pornography fits that description, but child abuse is neither necessary nor sufficient for an image to be considered child porn.

    Also, Cucumber C Face and Steve Taylor made excellent points. Much is often made of the fact that people are caught the "hundreds" of illegal images. But most will never have their legal status proved in court, we only have their word for it. But even if we accept that, it doesn't go near as far to indicate some huge obsession as you might think. People collect things, that part isn't strange at all. What's more, if those things are digital they can easily share their entire collection with someone else. That second person suddenly has "hundreds" with virtually no effort.

    I'm not saying collecting child porn is a healthy pastime, but it hardly proves someone is a dangerous psycho.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: What Pisses Me Off Most About Paedophiles By Harry Stottle

    " that they give the Police State the one plausible argument they need for "Total Surveillance". Even Terrorism doesn't attract as much support for its countermeasures as does Paedophilia. Hence, if we want to keep the State out of our lives, we're going to have to figure out for ourselves what we do to prevent Paedophiles abusing this medium (the web). And then, do it.

    Suggestions? "

    Embrace the philosophy : Shit Happens.

    Paedophiles are absolutely no reason for mass surveilance, 'just in case'

    Parents should look after their kids, instead of Myspace etc doing it. And the children who are just unlucky or abused by their parents, fall under the above category unfortunately. You're never going to wipe out all crime. A good idea might also be if they allowed paedophiles to go and get help somewhere. But why would any even consider getting help, when they are seen as the scum of the Earth by everyone, a new law is made because of them daily, and apparently psychologists have to report any to the police, even if they haven't commited any crime ?

    Or (but this will never happen) *deep breath* I say name and shame all convicted child molestors (not the people who hump bikes etc) In fact, publish a monthly magazine with their photos, home address etc. Have a free counselling service for anyone with these kind of ' bad thoughts' to use. 100% confidentiality. Even if they are admitting child abuse. It must absolutely be 100% safe for them to talk.

    Split the sex offenders register so that there are different levels (like the bike humpers, or drunken streakers...not the same as raping a baby..)

    Make it that if you are on the extreme side of the sex offender list, you are on it FOR LIFE, and molesting a child equals a non-negotiable 15 year sentence.

    If they molest more than 1 child, a child under 3 years old, or abduct them, drug them etc, make the sentence 50 years.

    You give them a chance to seek counselling, provide drugs which will lower the sex drive and/or SSRI type medication to target their brain chemistry..

    Instead of just hiding everything away and shouting that it's bad, bad, bad, DO NOT DO THIS!! Try to prevent people acting on these thoughts, and if they commit the crimes anyway, lock them up and throw away the key.

    If more people came forward and were totally honest and open, maybe we'd actually come closer to finding out what causes it, how bad the situation really is, and what we can do about it.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what I honestly don't get, is that

    if child pornography photos are so bad, and having them is illegal, then why do the police have them? Why do departments exist, who's actual job is to look for, and AT, these images all day long?

    What are the images doing to these viewers? Are they pedophiles? What makes them different from the other people who view the photos?

    According to the government, looking at the photos makes you likely to rape a child. So do these workers turn into active pedophiles? No...

    Ah but you see, it's something in you. You cannot 'catch' pedophilia.

    So wait, you're saying that if the general population saw those photos they would not suddenly turn into child molestors either? Hmm. Interesting.

    So the only problem is the actual true pedophiles? Who will probably have a huge collection of photos no matter how legal or illegal they are. And who will make their OWN child porn photos if they can't find any online.

    yes? no? Yes.

    -Andy, I see what you're saying but your logic is a bit off. Being a bank robber obviously implies that you have broken a law. Thus you are a criminal. However, if you view a PHOTO of a bank robbery, that is not a crime. Same with child porn images imo. You are viewing a photo of a crime.. That is not actually illegal, and there's no real logical reason why it should be illegal. You are not doing anything. What's done is done.

    I'm not sure the hardcore blitz reaction to child porn images makes sense. I'm wondering why they even treat it more seriously than things like murder. A PHOTO. Where a photo of a naked child is just a potential.... sign...of a potential..future...potential....assault.

    The CRIME is when ...nay, IF the assault happens , surely?

  39. The Voice of Reason

    @A.C 09.02 and 09.41 20/08/08

    Not all people that abuse/mutilate animals become serial killers but a sufficient number of serial killers started out with animals to consider such abuse as a significant precursor.

    Not all people that choose to view child pornography will become paedophiles but a significant number of paedophiles possess child pornography.

    A significant number of child abductions for sexual gratification end in the death of the child particularly if the abductor is a convicted paedophile.

    When scouring the net you might inadvertently happen upon (I deliberately avoided ‘come across’) a dodgy site but would/should navigate away from it. You won’t get strung up for that.

    If you deliberately visit such sites or create one to feed your need then you are on a slippery slope to who knows where?

    Viewing images of a crime is a crime despite what AC is saying – if you are interacting with these people, no matter that it is just via the web, you may express an interest in something. If that ‘something’ isn’t catered for at that moment you can bet it will be soon. Was that ‘something’ sitting on someone else’s hard drive or was it made especially for you? Has another crime been instigated albeit ‘innocently’. How can deliberately viewing child pornography not be a crime? (barring for evidential purposes).

    I’m sure a great many of The Register’s readers would not wish to attend a post mortem or a number of post mortems but a police officer has to. It’s just part of their job. Some can do it with no emotion, others can’t. It’s horses for courses. The same goes for those coppers that have to view images collected from suspected paedophiles. I know I couldn’t look at pictures or watch and listen to videos without a feeling of revulsion. It would then adversely effect how I would deal with the possessor of said items and then may cloud the issue at court. Sadly, someone has to do it.

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