A retired BBC producer, who worked on Question Time and Panorama, gasped in shock when he was told that he wouldn’t be sent to prison for downloading
(Image: PA)ByJames BrinsfordSenior Showbiz Reporter
- 18:24, 14 Jan 2022
Victor Melleney was shocked to hear that he would not be sent to prison after downloading hundreds of indecent images of children as young as two years old.
The 76-year-old retired BBC producer, who worked on top shows including Question Time and Panorama, stored 832 indecent images of children across his laptop, desktop, two hard drives and a WIFI dongle between May 2011 and October 2018.
Melleney admitted he was addicted to legal pornography, but said he had no interest in indecent images of children despite the downloads.
National Crime Agency officers found the most "damning evidence" from a portable silver hard drive found in one of the pockets of his dressing gown, when he was arrested at his west London home in 2018.
Kingston Crown Court was told that 612 of the total 832 images were found on the drive but Melleney insisted he had no idea how the illegal material got there.
Victor Melleney was spared a prison sentence
The total length of the videos found was 104 hours and police officers also found illegal stun guns belonging to Melleney.
At an earlier hearing, the former BBC producer admitted four charges of possession of prohibited weapons for discharge of noxious gas, namely three tasers and CS gas spray.
The jury acquitted Melleney of intentionally downloading the child sex abuse images but convicted him of possessing indecent images of children.
Melleney was handed a 20-month prison sentence by Judge Simon Bryan QC for the image offence and two months for the gun offences, which was suspended for two years due to his poor health and recent heart attack.
Melleney must also go to a rehabilitation activity requirement of 40 days, be on the sex offenders' register for 10 years.
Victor Melleney worked for the BBC as a TV producer
The disgraced TV producer was ordered by the judge to forfeit his devices bit deferred their destruction as they will form part of the child protection Bichard Inquiry.
Sentencing Melleney, the Judge told him: "You are 76 years old, of poor health due to a heart condition. You had a heart attack and were intensive care for a period.
"A prison sentence would be particularly challenging. I must bear in mind the Covid-19 pandemic and the prison conditions of what would be a relatively short custodial term.
"I bear in mind there has been a considerable impact on your friends and family. You will have to live with the disgrace and ignominy that you have brought on yourself."
Kieran Vaughan QC, in mitigation for Melleney, claimed that he was convicted of the "less serious offence" as presented to the jury, claimed he was medically vulnerable and said he worked for 30 years with an "unblemished record with the BBC".
The disgraced BBC producer worked on Question Time and Panorama
He also claimed that Melleney has not viewed any pornography since his arrest.
Vaughan said: "He is of 76 years of age and of good character until these proceedings.
"It is not an exaggeration as a consequence of these proceedings he has lost everything dear to him.
"His life has been decimated as a consequence of it. His wife has left him. His eldest daughter does not speak to him at all. His youngest daughter has very little meaningful contact with him."
He added: "He is a lonely man living alone as a consequence of these proceedings. His life is completely unrecognisable now compared to what it was when he was arrested in 2018.
"His fall from grace from where he previously stood has been seismic."
The judge responded: "You might say he only has himself to blame."
Ruona Iguyovwe, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Victor Melleney knew he was in possession of indecent images of children.
"The search history of devices recovered during searches of Melleney’s home revealed downloads of images depicting sexual activity involving children.
"Examination of the electronic devices also revealed software which can be used by users in sharing indecent images of children.
“The hard drives, recovered from his home, his basement, and hidden in the pocket of a dressing gown he was wearing when he was arrested, contained sickening videos, part of a collection downloaded over years.
“The sexual exploitation of children and the distribution of images like this is an utterly sickening practice and one which the CPS and its partners will continue to work to root out.”
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