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Thursday, 25 October, 2001, 19:29 GMT 20:29 UK
Doctor fined over child porn
Exeter Crown Court
Paul Collier's appeal was heard at Exeter Crown Court
A Devon hospital consultant who was given a suspended jail term for downloading child pornography from the internet has successfully appealed against the sentence.

Consultant dermatologist Dr Paul Collier, 43, was sentenced to seven months imprisonment, suspended for two years, when he appeared before Exeter magistrates in August.

He had admitted nine charges of making indecent pseudo photographs of children under the age of 16.

He had also admitted assaulting two police officers in the execution of their duty, by punching and kicking.

At Exeter Crown Court on Thursday, Recorder Stephen Parish allowed the appeal and imposed a fine of 2,500.

We conclude this case is not so serious that only a custodial sentence could be imposed for it

Stephen Parish
Court Recorder
Dr Collier, who worked for nine years at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, committed the offences when he was living in Lympstone, east Devon.

In May 2000, police executed a warrant at his home under the Protection of Children Act. During the search, Collier became violent and abusive and had to be arrested.

Twenty two images of children were found on a computer at his home, nine of which resulted in charges.

Dr Collier, who now lives in Bristol, told police he had downloaded the images onto a disc. He admitted they were indecent and the children were under age.

Stephen Mooney, defending, told the court that Dr Collier was a hard-working man.

Mr Mooney said Dr Collier had been led to behave in an entirely uncharacteristic way as a result of overwork, stress, disintegration of his marriage and mental illness.

'Risk-taking behaviour'

He said the doctor had embarked on risk-taking behaviour, including cliff climbing without a rope and swimming across a river at night.

To demonstrate his prowess with a computer, he tried to hack into the White House and downloaded the pornography as a challenge when heard that the images were on sites which were difficult to locate.

Mr Mooney said there was no evidence that the photographs would be distributed or printed and they had not been shown to anyone else.

Court Recorder Stephen Parish said: "We conclude this case is not so serious that only a custodial sentence could be imposed for it."

'No risk'

However, Mr Parish said the downloading of the pornography was serious.

He said: "We are of the unanimous view we do not accept you had no interest in those images."

Dr Collier is still serving an 18-month suspension by the General Medical Council.

An investigation into his work during his nine years at the hospital discovered that although he had treated children, there had been no risk as a nurse or parent had always been present.

Click here to go to BBC Devon Online
See also:

18 Oct 01 | Scotland
Judges restrict child porn sentences
18 Oct 01 | Scotland
Judges under fire over guidance
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