Former aide to David Cameron avoids prison for downloading indecent child images


A former aide to Prime Minister David Cameron has walked free from court after being convicted of downloading pictures of girls as young as 10 in sexual poses wearing swimwear and underwear.

Patrick Rock, 65, faced 20 charges of making an indecent photograph of a child but the jury at Southwark Crown Court took more than eight hours to convict him by majority verdict of five counts.

Judge Alistair McCreath sentenced Rock to a two-year conditional discharge on each count, to run concurrently.

Patrick Rock arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London
(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The judge said: "I have not lost sight of the obvious reality that right-thinking people will quite properly consider that those who did what you did should be punished for it.

"You should be. And you have been.

"The punishment for you is the loss of your reputation and your very public humiliation.

"It is a punishment which you brought on yourself, but is nonetheless a very real one. And it is one that is utterly merited."

Patrick Rock leaves Southwark Crown Court in London
(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Rock, who had been involved in drawing up Government policy on internet porn filters prior to his arrest, had claimed the 20 images he downloaded on to his iPad over three days in August 2013 were not indecent.

Rock was convicted of five counts and acquitted of three similar charges, while jurors were unable to agree on the 12 remaining counts and were discharged, meaning the charges will lie on file.

The court heard that the youngest of the girls in the pictures was aged just 10 years and four months when he downloaded the image - meaning she would have been younger when it was taken.

Patrick Rock who will be sentenced after downloading indecent pictures of scantily-clad girls a
(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

On Wednesday, the court heard Rock had downloaded the images on an iPad in a golf club while on a trip to the US following the death of his mother.

Upon finding out the US authorities were interested in searching his iPad, Rock immediately told the Prime Minister's private secretary, his barrister Sasha Wass QC said.

He was reported to the National Crime Agency, who arrested him and searched another iPad, his laptop and phone but found no other images.

The Recorder of Westminster said: "These were all sexualised images of children which were, the jury found, indecent.

"They represent the sexual exploitation of five young girls.

"Whilst it is true that the photographs were taken by others, you and others like you who accessed and looked at these images were complicit in that exploitation."

Patrick Rock leaves Southwark Crown Court in London
(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

But he said custody was "not appropriate" for the offences Rock, of Fulham, south-west London, had committed. The former aide had voluntarily attended sessions by UK charity the Lucy Faithfull Foundation and had "engaged actively". The judge accepted Rock had been in a "state of unusual emotional turmoil" at the time he downloaded the five photos between August 11 and 14 2013.

He said the case was the first he had come across where the children photographed were not naked. But he added: "There is no question about whether they were indecent images; the verdicts of the jury have established that.

"They did not, however, involve the display of naked genitalia or other intimate parts of the body.

"They numbered in total five images. I hope that you will note carefully that the word 'only' has not featured in that last sentence."

Patrick Rock, 64
(John Stillwell/PA)

Rock, who was warned by the judge that prison would be "inevitable" if he were to reoffend within two years, was also ordered to pay £12,500 in court costs.

He must register as a sex offender for the duration of the two years and was also banned, under a sexual harm prevention order, from using a device with the internet unless it can retain his browsing history and he surrenders it for inspection by police on request over the same period.

Downing Street refused to comment.