Men jailed for making and distributing indecent images of children

20 December 2006

Thomas Victor O Carroll

A high-profile paedophile activist and a man who possessed the widest range of abusive material known to the Met have today been sentenced to imprisonment at Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court.

Thomas Victor O'Carroll was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment and will be placed on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.

"The guilty pleas of O'Carroll and Studdert are an example of how patience, tenacity and the commitment of the Met's Paedophile Unit paid dividends in this investigation"

Michael John De Clare Studdert was sentenced to four years imprisonment for making and downloading indecent images, two years for distributing indecent images and three years for possession of indecent images. All sentences are to run concurrently. The judge ordered that he be placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life and he is also subject of a Sex Offences Prevention Order, which prohibits him from owning a computer or machinery, which allows him access to the Internet.

61-year-old Thomas Victor O'Carroll, an out of work journalist and 67-year-old Michael John De Clare, a retired Anglican minister, were arrested in January 2006 after the Met's Paedophile Unit conducted a series of co-ordinated searches and arrests.

O'Carroll is a high-profile activist who has campaigned to legitimise certain aspects of paedophilia and was the chairman of the now defunct Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) in the UK. He has latterly been a member of the International Paedophile Child Emancipation forum (IPCE).

The purpose of IPCE is to promote 'scholarly discussion' with the aim of changing legislation to decriminalise aspects of child abuse. The operation also disrupted IPCE, whose members are predominantly in mainland Europe, but also extend around the globe.

The arrests of O'Carroll and Studdert were the result of a lengthy covert operation by the Met's Paedophile Unit, codenamed Glenlivet, which commenced in the summer of 2002. In the summer of 2005, O'Carroll travelled from his then home in Shildon, County Durham to visit Studdert, an associate who was at that time living in Hindhead, Surrey.

O'Carroll collected a cache of indecent material of children from Studdert, which he had left there for safekeeping, and then drove to another part of the country to give the material to another associate. Unbeknown to O'Carroll, the other associate was an undercover police officer.

During the arrest phase of the operation, a search of Studdert's extensive country home, and some 17 acres of grounds, uncovered two highly sophisticated hidden compartments within his bathroom One was hidden behind a false wall by the bath and the other was hidden in the eves of the house and accessed by a secret door opposite the toilet. The 'hides' contained a massive hoard of indecent images of children, believed to be his lifetime's collection, with images from the 1950's to modern day in a variety of formats.

The formats included videos, photographic slides, cine films, photographs, magazines and photographic negatives. In terms of formats it was the widest ranging personal collection of abusive material known to the Metropolitan Police Service ever attributed to one person.

On 21 September 2006, O'Carroll pleaded guilty to three charges and Studdert pleaded guilty to twenty-six charges of possession, making and distribution of indecent images of children and both appeared at court today in custody.

The Senior Investigating Officer on the case, Acting Detective Chief Inspector Neil Thompson of the Met's Paedophile Unit said:

"The guilty pleas of O'Carroll and Studdert are an example of how patience, tenacity and the commitment of the Met's Paedophile Unit paid dividends in this investigation. O'Carroll and Studdert posed a risk to children both in the UK and abroad and today's sentencing will ensure that further children are safeguarded against such prolific paedophiles."