A 59-year-old man from Bracklesham Bay who fled the area after he was arrested in 2004 for possessing indecent images of children has been jailed for 30 months.
Paul Ashton was finally caught after his picture appeared on the Crimestoppers Most Wanted list. He pleaded guilty at Chichester Crown Court hearing on Thursday to having kept over 5,000 indecent images of minors.
The investigation originally began in the summer of 2004 when Sussex Police executed a warrant at Ashton’s address in Bracklesham Bay and recovered computer equipment. He was arrested and subsequently bailed pending an analysis of the content.
His address was searched again a few months later and more computer equipment was recovered. But Ashton failed to answer his bail and absconded from his home address. All his computers contained numerous indecent images stored on the hard drive and USB sticks.
In July 2011 an anonymous call was made to Crimestoppers by someone who saw Ashton’s photo on the Most Wanted list.
They recognised the picture as a man working in South Wales but under a different name. South Wales Police were informed and local officers swiftly arrested him in relation to the Sussex enquiry; more computer equipment containing further images was also found.
DC David Midgley, of West Sussex CID, said: “This case highlights how an individual’s criminality will catch up with them - whether it is weeks, months or years later. Credit must go to the anonymous informant to Crimestoppers who became suspicious and rang in. Thanks to their actions, Ashton was finally brought to justice after spending nearly eight years in hiding.
“Ashton recognises that in each image, a child was a victim of crime. The length of the sentence shows how the justice system will punish those who download indecent images of children. Even when he is released, this man will be subjected to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order, which limits and monitors his use of computers and he will also be on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.”