JURORS took barely 30 minutes to find a Wiltshire man guilty of taking indecent images of a teen girl.
Nicholas Hemburrow, 47, had denied taking eight indecent images of a child and being in possession of a further five from the same photoshoot.
But at Swindon Crown Court, jurors returned their 13 unanimous guilty verdicts just 39 minutes after they left court to begin their deliberations.
The court heard police had found the images of a girl in her mid-teens on Hemburrow’s phone last year.
The photographs of the girl, who was known to the man, were downloaded by forensic investigators.
The images were taken the previous summer over around a 15 minute period. They showed her wearing a swimsuit, posed on a trampoline. Some of the photographs had been taken by Hemburrow and some by the girl herself.
Interviewed by police last March, he provided a prepared statement in which he acknowledged taking some of the pictures. He did not accept that the images were indecent.
Jurors did not hear from the girl or the defendant, although they were read a number of character references. One described the man as an “honest, outgoing person with a good moral compass”.
The 12-member jury were provided with two bundles of photographs: the 13 images prosecutors claimed were indecent and another set taken at the same time that the Crown said were not indecent.
The question of what constituted indecent material was up to the jury, Judge Jason Taylor QC said. The term “indecent” was not defined in law, he told jurors, but was a “plain English word” and they should apply the standards that “ordinary, right-thinking members of the public” would expect.
Prosecutor Barnaby Shaw pointed to the clothing worn by the girl, the way she was posed and the focus on parts of her anatomy. “At the end of the day it really is fully a matter for you, but taking those pictures individually and in fact as a whole are those indecent images in his possession? The prosecution says yes, they are and obviously are,” he said in his closing speech.
Defending Hemburrow, barrister David Rhodes pointed out similarities between the images the Crown said were indecent and those they said were not. “How can you be sure if the prosecution themselves take such an inconsistent position?” he asked.
Mr Rhodes said jurors should apply 21st century standards of propriety in coming to their decision over whether the material was indecent. He compared the prosecutor’s closing speech to something from another century: “I was almost expecting to hear him say ‘is this a photograph you would show your wife or servant?’”
Those 21st century standards of propriety included an Instagram generation used to celebrities sharing revealing pictures of themselves on social media. “When you come to decide if these images are indecent, please take into account what you know about recognised standards of propriety in our society as they apply to [teenagers] up and down the country.” The images had been taken with the girl’s consent and some had been taken by the girl herself.
Judge Taylor adjourned sentence to a date to be fixed and ordered a pre-sentence report. Sentencing is expected to take place in mid-December. Hemburrow, of Elley Green, Corsham, was granted bail.