Any story of a doctor who is caught abusing the trust placed in him is bound to attract the attention of the public. And so Dr Jonathan Walsh, a paediatrician, was bound to get in the news when on 20th March 2017 he was jailed for indecent images offences.
A search warrant was executed at Dr Walsh’s address which found 35 computer files containing indecent images of children, with 27 being classified as Level A – the most serious (‘Possession of images involving penetrative sexual activity’ or ‘Possession of images involving sexual activity with an animal or sadism’).
There were 17 charges; 10 of distributing the images and 7 of making. Although ‘making’ sounds more serious, it almost invariably means downloading.
It seems that there was a level of sophistication as Dr Walsh had ‘configured settings on his computer’s router and installed software to wipe files and hide their use.‘
The starting point is the Sentencing Guidelines (page 76). The starting point for the ‘making’ is 1 year, with 3 years for the distribution.
In this case, there was a guilty plea that would have attracted some credit (it is not clear at what stage he pleaded guilty). On the face of it, this means that the sentence was right at the top of the range. This is higher than we would expect as there were not actually that many images (often there are thousands and thousands). It may well be that there is more to it in the background (which if there is an appeal we will be able to find out more about).
Although the sentence is a long one, there is no suggestion that he had abused any child in his care, or else the sentence would have been much,. much longer.