A few years ago when she was 17, acting on intelligence received as they say, police raided the home of Amy Hickson and seized her computer. On it they found over 600 illegal images, mostly child pornography, with some extreme images of animals.
On 6th March 2015 Ms Hickson, now aged 20, was given a 12 month suspended sentence (12 months youth detention, suspended for 2 years) with a condition of undertaking 200 hours unpaid work. She will also have to sign the Sex Register for the next 10 years.
We don’t have full details, but it is clear that there were some images at Category A (see the table at page 77 Sexual Offences Guidelines) – penetrative sexual activity. There was also an element of sophistication as the files were hidden in the computer. The Judge said “There are babies in these images, as well as two-year-olds, three-year-olds… This does make it very serious indeed”
There will be some credit for the plea of guilty, but probably around 10% as it was just before her trial was about to start. The Judge noted that it seems that Ms Hickson was still in denial in relation to the offending.
To my mind the most significant point is that she was aged 17 when the offences were committed. Youths are generally treated a lot more leniently than adults, so this would lead to a lower sentence.
On the guidelines, the starting point for this offending would be 1 year in prison, with a range from 6 months to 3 years. This indicates that the Judge took a slightly higher starting point (probably 14 months, similar to the starting point for Vincent Tabak).
On the face of it, given that she was a youth at the time, the sentence is longer than I would have expected (I would have thought 6 months or less would have been right). Given that Ms Hickson still has her liberty, it is unlikely that she will appeal however.
It is very rare for woman (and even rarer for girls as Ms Hickson was) to commit these sorts of offences, and a suspended sentence seems the proper way of dealing with this.