Published: 14:32, 08 October 2018
| Updated: 10:06, 09 October 2018
A former bodyguard to Prince Harry has escaped a prison sentence for downloading child sex abuse images and extreme porn after a judge praised him for his “exemplary” military service.
Timothy Murfitt was said to be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder when he searched for more than 10,000 of the disturbing images involving children.
Maidstone Crown Court heard the 47-year-old former soldier was working in London when police went to his home in Bullfinch Close, Sevenoaks, on April 6 last year.
Police spoke to him by phone and Murfitt - who has since moved from that address - said he had his laptop and hard drives with him. An arrangement was made to hand them over.
Prosecutor Mary Jacobson said Murfitt at first claimed he had only looked at adult porn. The hard drives were examined and the images were found.
There were 171 in the highest category, 79 in the next serious and 10,000 in the lowest.
There were 382 extreme images showing adults having sex with animals.
“The children were very young,” said Miss Jacobson. “The moving images were over one hour in duration.”
Murfitt had used search terms such as “toddler”, “kids” and “baby girl pics”.
Miss Jacobson said he was open and honest when interviewed by police. He said he had been sent images of children and continued to search for them. He denied having a sexual interest in children.
“He said he had trauma from active service,” said the prosecutor. “He said it didn’t excuse him from looking at the images.”
Rebecca Nieto, defending, said such offences caused great harm and Murfitt was “absolutely deeply ashamed of this behaviour”.
“The moving images were over one hour in duration...” - prosecutor Mary Jacobson
“There is a deeper psychological issue here,” said Miss Nieto. “He has tried to get help with his mental condition, but has not received much.
“He got so desperate that his partner actually wrote to Prince Harry, who he was a bodyguard for at one point. There was very little help for soldiers.
“This is an unusual case. It is not something that is frequently seen in the context of this offending. There is unique mitigation that accompanies this sort of offending.
“He clearly has serious ongoing PTSD. The harm he poses is very low. He has become entrepreneurial. He employs 11 people in his company.”
Judge Martin Huseyin immediately stated: “I am persuaded this sentence should be suspended.”
Murfitt was sentenced to six months suspended for two years with 160 hours unpaid work. His name will appear on the sex offenders’ register for seven years and a sexual harm prevention order was made.
The judge told Murfitt: “It is very sad to see someone with your history standing there, particularly for this kind of offence. Some of the images are really appalling.
“What drives that is people are prepared to watch them. If there were not consumers, they would not be produced and it would not happen.
“You spent a great deal of your life protecting people from harm. You had an exemplary military career. You put your own life at risk.
“Equally importantly, you spent a lot of your life working very hard to protect other soldiers from harm.
“It is particularly inappropriate and sad you should end up committing offences for which particularly vulnerable young children are at the centre of the creation of those images.”
Judge Huseyin added: “Your history is remarkable. Your military record seldom reaches the levels of considerable praise that you have from those who dealt with you.
“This is utterly out of character. Nothing like this should happen again. Given your cooperation and other factors, I am prepared to suspend the sentence.”