UK

Ex-Cameron aide Patrick Rock guilty of child image offences

Patrick Rock Image copyright PA
Image caption Patrick Rock had denied all the charges against him

A former aide to Prime Minister David Cameron has been found guilty of possessing and downloading indecent images of children as young as 10.

Patrick Rock, 64, an ex-deputy director of policy at Downing Street, was convicted of five charges and acquitted of three similar counts.

The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the remaining 12 charges.

Rock had admitted downloading 20 images of nine young girls in 2013, but denied they were indecent.

Southwark Crown Court heard the youngest of the girls was 10 years and four months old when Rock, of Fulham, south-west London, downloaded the image - meaning she would have been younger when it was taken.

While none of the girls were naked, prosecutors argued they were in "sexualised" poses in clothing including swimwear and bras.

The court heard Rock downloaded the images at a golf club while on a trip to visit family in the US.

Prosecutor Tom Forster said Rock used the internet specifically at the golf club, away from his family home.

'Morally wrong'

But Sasha Wass, in mitigation, said her client had been in America after his mother had died in order to handle her affairs.

Rock's sister, in a statement read to the court, said at the time of the offences he had been "sad, angry and holding on to the fact he had not been with mum when she died".

Rock handed himself in after learning the US authorities were interested in searching his iPad, Ms Wass said.

He also reported himself to the prime minister's private secretary before he was arrested, she said.

The prime minister's private secretary then reported him to the UK's National Crime Agency and Rock immediately resigned, the court heard.

Ms Wass said: "In our submission he did the honourable thing from the outset.

"Mr Rock always accepted he had behaved in a way that was morally wrong by downloading those images."

Ms Wass said Rock had sought treatment at a charity called the Lucy Faithfull Foundation - which works to prevent the sexual abuse of children and offers treatment to offenders.

Police in the US did not prosecute Rock because they had found there was no "child pornography", she added.

Adjourning until Thursday for sentencing, Judge Alistair McCreath said: "This is a man who is convicted of the downloading of, in relative terms, a small number of images who has an unblemished history."

The 12 charges the jury could not reach a verdict on were discharged, meaning they will lie on file.

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