Child-porn shame of former university professor

David Sibley
David Sibley
0
Have your say

A FORMER university professor has been given a suspended jail sentence after a court heard he downloaded thousands of indecent images of children, some only babies.

David Sibley, 71, who previously worked at both Hull and Leeds Universities, was caught through police intelligence on his credit card purchases.

Officers visited his home in March 2010 and seized his computer, which when analysed revealed more than 13,000 images and movies.

Simon Alexander, representing Sibley, told Leeds Crown Court yesterday that although having a distinguished and useful career he was also lonely.

“It started off, he tells me, with an interest in the Victorian type of artistic pictures of young children taken by early photographers, moved on to art pictures and then on to level one indecent images.

“Driven by loneliness and through the background he comes from, by curiosity, he started moving up the levels.”

He said Sibley was deeply ashamed of his actions. He had deleted most of the images and there was no suggestion of anything inappropriate in his attitude to young people while working.

Sibley, 71, of Newton Court, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, admitted 21 offences of making indecent images and was given an eight months jail sentence suspended for two years with supervision and a 30 day activity requirement. He was also ordered to pay £750 prosecution costs and to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

Judge Robert Bartfield told him the sentence was designed to provide him with intensive supervision, advice and rehabilitation to prevent any repetition of what he had done.

“It doesn’t seem to me to make any difference how many of these things you had eventually deleted. The fact is this is not a victimless crime.

“These children have been abused at the behest of those who would make these images and movies for the gratification of those who would pay for it, like you, and they include the most depraved and bestial things happening to them.”

He said Sibley had grandchildren of his own and asked what he would want to do to the person responsible if one of them featured in such images.

The judge told him he had considered immediate custody but because of his age, health – having already suffered one heart attack, and the loss of his good name “which in your case I am satisfied is a very severe punishment” could suspend it.

After winning a Fulbright scholarship to study in America, Sibley had pursued a distinguished academic career, contributing a great deal in terms of research and literature in his field. He had read testimonials from other academics, students and the community who had once looked up to him, “now they do not”.

Robert Galley, prosecuting, said police found 12,115 images and 74 movies at level one, 171 images and 11 movies at level two, 567 images and two movies at level three, 448 images and 20 movies at level four and 59 images at level five, the most serious.

Sibley was a Professor of human geography at the University of Leeds after having spent time at the School of Geography and Earth Resources at the University of Hull.

After the case DS Kevin Wilkins of West Yorkshire Police Abusive Images Unit said individuals or groups who sought to exploit children via the internet “whether within the boundaries of West Yorkshire or beyond” would be sought out.