University staff member downloaded indecent images of children

By Natasha Livingstone

A staff member at Durham University downloaded inappropriate images of children, Durham Crown Court heard this week.

Following an existing investigation into indecent material found in the defendant’s home in 2017, police confiscated his work computer and mobile phone last month.

Matthew James Hepburn, a university IT support worker, has previously admitted three charges of making indecent photos of children.

The allegations relate to 95 images of the severest rating, category A, alongside 129 in category B and 573 in category C. The pictures were downloaded between May 2003 and December 2017.

The 36-year-old also admitted one charge of possessing extreme pornography, referring to over 300 images displaying bestiality.

Prosecutor Paul Cleasby told the court the recent seizures of Hepburn’s University device complicated the case.

Last month, Mr Cleasby said that the defendant has been “very forthright” in his last two police interviews, openly discussing the indecent images on his work computer.

The recently seized evidence has not yet been examined by the computer crime unit.

The prosecutor added: “It appears he has made global admissions that any images found on those devices are his responsibility.”

Mr Cleasby asked for the case to be adjourned for 28 days so the recently seized devices from Durham University can be assessed.

Judge Christopher Prince agreed but advised the Probation Service to begin preparing a pre-sentence background report.

If the expected progress is made, Judge Price said Hepburn may be sentenced when the court adjourns on July 6th.

Photograph: Maddie Flisher

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