[A] FORMER school caretaker has been jailed after almost 140,000 indecent images of children were found on a computer hard drive.
Andrew Neil Gash’s crimes – committed between 2008 and 2017 – came to light after police called at his home early on October 5 last year. Gash, 50, confessed he had started looking at the vast volume of illegal images after stopping work, and conceded: “I have been an idiot.”
He admitted making and possessing indecent photographs of a child. These included 461 still and moving photographs of children classed in category A, the most serious; and 136,919 category C photos. Ninety percent of the images featured children aged two to 14 years, Carlisle Crown Court heard.
Gash, who also admitted possessing a prohibited image of a youngster, was said to have previously been “employed as a caretaker at a school”.
Gash, of Moorhouse Road, Carlisle, was jailed for 10 months by Judge James Adkin. He said “elaborate steps” taken by the defendant to cover his tracks with specialist computer software meant the full extent of his offending “can’t be entirely quantified”. Gash must also sign the sex offenders’ register and comply with the strict terms of a sexual harm prevention order, both for 10 years.
Detective Constable Carolyn Willacy, Digital Media Investigation Unit, said: “This conviction will hopefully act as a deterrent to those who view and distribute illegal images.
“Gash downloaded a significant amount of indecent images of children over a period of almost nine years for his own gratification.
“We will continue to prosecute those who abuse children by engaging in this sort of behaviour. Even if a person attempts to hide their offending we will do everything in our power to bring them to justice.
“We encourage anyone who has any suspicions of any sort of abuse to contact us so we can investigate.”
Cumbria Constabulary has an ongoing partnership with the Lucy Faithful Foundation that aims to tackle the growing demand online for indecent images. The Lucy Faithfull Foundation is a charity that works to prevent people from viewing such illegal material in the first place; and to get them to stop if they have already started.
If you wish to report a crime or speak to an officer about an incident, please contact Cumbria Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.