Man sentenced for cartoon child pornography charges

York Crown Court
York Crown Court

A “rather tragic individual” who claimed not to realise that downloading cartoon images of child pornography was an offence was put right by a court when he was sentenced and placed under sexual prevention orders.

Michael Lee Docherty, 49, of King Street, was said to be a chronic alcoholic, with no computer knowledge, who would occasionally view on a lap-top he had been given the images, together with photographs of real children being abused.

The offences, which included images of all levels of seriousness, were found on the computer during a police raid in February, 2012, on Docherty’s then address in the Harrogate area.

York Crown Court was told that 34 indecent images of real children were found during a forensic examination of the computer, together with 200 cartoon images.

Docherty, who has a criminal record for offences including domestic violence, appeared for sentencing having previously admitted eight charges of making indecent photographs of real children and eight of possessing prohibited pornographic images of children.

He also asked for the possession of 218 other images to be taken into consideration and was sentenced to a three year community order, with three years supervision.

In interview, Docherty told the police he did not realise that cartoon images of child pornography were illegal.

Chris Smith, mitigating, said that the situation was that Docherty represents a “rather tragic individual” with a 30 year history of abusing alcohol, although since his move to Scarborough he was presenting as a quite improved person, having started dealing with his drink problem.

He said that at the time of the police raid Docherty had been drinking one-and-a-half litres of vodka and sherry a day. Mr Smith said his client was “deeply ashamed”.

As part of the court order Docherty will complete a sex offender programme, serve a five year sexual offences protection order restricting use of the internet and be registered on the sex offenders register for five years. He is also banned from working with children.