Brewer's terrible porn secret

INTERNATIONAL child porn ringleader Timothy Cox was jailed yesterday after trading thousands of images of children from his family's Suffolk farmhouse. Features editor TRACEY SPARLING reports on how the quiet country setting harboured a grim secret which stretched worldwide.

By Tracey Sparling

INTERNATIONAL child porn ringleader Timothy Cox was jailed yesterday after trading thousands of images of children from his family's Suffolk farmhouse. Features editor TRACEY SPARLING reports on how the quiet country setting harboured a grim secret which stretched worldwide.

TO all the world, this farmhouse looks like an idyllic family home set down a leafy lane.

Chickens scratch in the dust, around brick-built barns where the owners have diversified into brewing.

This farm stands as a local landmark in Brettenham Road , in the somewhat scattered village of Buxhall, four miles west of Stowmarket and 15 from Ipswich.

It's right in the centre of Suffolk and out in the fields of this quiet countryside, the main occupation seems always to have been associated with agriculture.

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Rarely does anything here hit the headlines, but today the world knows that Buxhall was home to a disturbing crime, which was shocking in its scale.

Sitting inside the privacy of the farmhouse, tapping away at his computer, the 28-year-old son of the family was engrossed in sending photos and videos of children across the globe.

Timothy Cox was broadcasting picture after picture - an average of 200 degrading images a day - through the internet.

He kept nearly 75,000 still indecent images of children on his computer, plus 1,100 videos which if played one after the other would have taken 316 hours, or to put it another way, just under two weeks.

Today consultant forensic psychologist Dr Keith Ashcroft, who works with sex offenders in prisons, remained unsurprised by the scale of the offences.

He said: “You have to adopt a whole new perspective when you deal with the internet, because although 75,000 images is an impossible amount to conceptualise, it is miniscule compared to the vastness of the Internet.”

From his base at Fylde Coast Hospital in Blackpool, he told the Evening Star that paedophiles like chatrooms for the chance to discuss their interests with like-minded people, which legitimises their feelings. Dr Ashcroft said: “Even when I interview paedophiles in prison, they like to talk about it - with every detail included. They think telling me is okay, and when I fail to react they think I am condoning their behaviour. They badly misunderstand the process.”

The internet makes finding child pornography much easier. Someone who wishes to access such material can go online and be in contact with thousands of individuals in dozens of countries with enormous volumes of the material.

The net also makes accessing child porn much more anonymous. There is no need to visit a friend or shop or to contact a supplier running the risk of discovery or detection. Instead the user of this material can access it from the privacy of his own home -and it is usually a he - 24 hours a day 365 days a year.

Dr Ashcroft said: “The internet has revealed the phenomenal numbers of paedophiles, they are everywhere and they cover a wide age range - you find paedophiles in their 90s.”

But he said we shouldn't assume people who distribute images are paedophiles and added that some people who are computer savvy, start dealing in images whether or not they get interested themselves.

Also it doesn't necessarily follow that all child porn viewers go on to commit sex acts on children, and Dr Ashcroft said: “Finding that link is still at the research stage. We don't yet fully understand how many child porn users go on to offend, and the risk is very difficult to assess.”

What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Cox was identified by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre as the host of the 'Kids the Light of Our Lives' internet chatroom, dedicated to the sexual exploitation of children.

After investigative work involving law enforcement authorities across 35 countries, as part of Operation Chandler, it emerged that Cox had been running the site using the online identity, 'Son of God', from his home.

Cox pleaded guilty earlier this year to six counts of possessing indecent photographs of children for show, two counts of distributing indecent photographs of children and a count of possessing indecent photographs of children, was arrested on September 28 after CEOP contacted Suffolk police.

Following his arrest officers from the CEOP Centre and Toronto Police in Canada assumed his online identity to identify further offenders.

Meanwhile officers from the Suffolk Constabulary's Hi-Tech Crime Unit forensically examined Cox's computer, seized from his home address, and found 75,960 indecent and explicit images of children in addition to evidence that he had supplied 11,491 images to other users of the chat room.

Over a three-month period officers from the Suffolk Constabulary Online Investigation Team viewed and categorised all 75,960 child abuse images found on Cox's computer.

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