Fomer BBC exec caught with child porn walks after explaining it was all an accident

BEDS WILLDEN

A former BBC executive who downloaded more than 150 indecent images of children ‘by accident’ has avoided jail.

Mark Deitch, 57, worked for the corporation for 12 years and was responsible for purchasing programmes on behalf of other broadcasters.

The ‘prolific downloader’ admitted downloading the images which were found in folders labelled ‘candids’ and ‘teen’, among other things, from online anonymous forum 4chan.

He claims to have been unaware of a folder labelled ‘pizza’ which contained exclusively indecent images of children when he made the ‘bulk’ downloads.

He was handed a community order and must carry out 200 hours of unpaid work, Southwark Crown Court heard today (thurs).

Deitch and his wife hugged after he left the dock.

Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith, sentencing Deitch today, said: ‘It seems apparent that you became addicted to legal pornography which you took to watching and storing during your working hours.

‘In the course of collecting that time you collected a vast amount you collected this comparatively small amount of unlawful material.

‘I, with some hesitation having heard your evidence, am prepared to sentence you on the basis that you did not deliberately seek out this material but you must have been aware that there was a very obvious risk in downloading some of it would include unlawful and unpleasant material such as this.’

The judge noted that two experts had examined Deitch and found that he did not have any sexual interest in children despite possessing this material.

He said a community order was appropriate because of Deitch’s guilty pleas and his apparent lack of intent for downloading the indecent material.

At the time of the offences Deitch was working part time for talent agency Benjamin Management Ltd.

Deitch used a work computer to download the images before transferring them to an external hard drive.

His computer only came under scrutiny after technicians were trying to fix mend it.

Adrian Fleming, prosecuting at an earlier hearing, explained that the original computer had been wiped so that it could be used by someone else.

This meant that investigators were only able to examine the hard drive and that certain factors – such as a browser search history – were not available.

They did find a folder called MDX which Deitch admitted he may have created as it was his initials and an X which could stand for X-rated content.

Mr Fleming said:’Within that we a number of sub files including one entitled ‘pizza’.

‘Technicians did not appear to have very much difficulty in finding that folder – when they went in they were simply trying to fix a problem.

‘This file ‘pizza’, in which approximately half of the images were found, was – in the crown’s submission – a fairly obvious place within the MDX folder.’

The court heard how the file contained 80 indecent images of children and no other content.

These images were part of approximately 33,000 files stored on the external device, almost all of which are thought to be pornographic.

The ‘creation date’ on the files ranged for vast periods of 2013 and 2014 and suggested that this may mean that Deitch added files to the device on a number of occasions.

‘All the downloads of the files were from a computer called Mark PC,’ the prosecutor said.

He went through a number of folder names such as ‘candids’ and ‘teen’ as he explained to the court how some images were in folders exclusively containing unlawful images while other were mixed with legal, adult pornography.

In total five images of the most serious category – including some of children aged under ten – were found on the device along with 43 of the second grouping and 115 of the third.

There was also one video file found that fit into the third band of seriousness.

During an interview when presented with the file name ‘stills’ Deitch said that it ‘rings a bell a bit’ though this folder also contained hundreds of other legal images.

He admitted downloading, and therefore making, the images but has denied knowing that they were present in part of a bulk download.

Marc Brown, for Deitch, said: ‘He was a prolific downloader of legal adult pornography.

‘This is a man who has an obsession with collecting.

‘There was a vast quantity of adult pornography and a tiny quantity of this material.’

Deitch’s wife and friends have stood by him throughout the ordeal.

Mr Brown explained that of the approximately 33,000 images only around 0.5% of them were illegal.

‘He would download material from the online forum 4chan in a zip format.

‘He would download zip files containing various folders which contained pornographic material in bulk.

‘He did not deliberately seek out the material referred to in the indictment.

‘The test is whether the defendant knew that the material he was downloading contained indecent material or was likely to contain indecent material.’

Deitch told the court that for him the downloading was not a thrill because of the pornography but that the process was what interested him.

He said: ‘I found that the searching soothes me – it is the downloading that interests me.’

The former BBC executive said that he would spend hours of time at work scouring 4Chan for things to download as he procrastinated.

He admitted that he had stumbled across child pornography on the site ‘once or twice’ but claimed to have immediately alerted moderators.

‘Whilst I was at work I would go into 4Chan and then there would be a post – a new post would come up every couple of seconds, it could be anything.

‘It meant doing something other than the thing you are doing as a displacement exercise – it was distraction.

‘I was not functioning with a full deck at that point to be honest.

‘More often than not I would unzip it to the PC and then copy it over in bulk in the evening.

‘It was a ridiculous amount – so much so in fact that I got an email from the building maintenance people saying ‘somebody in your office is really slowing down the building will you stop it please’.

‘It was enough to crash the internet connection.’

Deitch admitted he had a particular fondness for ‘amateur’ couples and ‘casting auditions’ when it came to looking for what he described as ‘legal porn’.

He maintained that he had not actively sought out indecent images of children but this his knowledge of the online forum should have alerted him that there could be a risk.

‘I suppose certainly looking back on it now there were people there who were into all sorts of weird stuff.

‘It would not be beyond the realm of possibilities that something untoward would be placed there.’

He was also questioned about the file named ‘pizza’ but claimed it was unlikely he chose the name.

‘It is a strange word for me because I do not like pizza and I am allergic to cheese.’

Deitch spent 12 years at the state broadcaster, rising to become head of Acquired Output.

He has also run the channel Bravo, and a number of other networks, and is now a senior figure at the International School of Screen Acting.

His profile on the school’s website describes him as an ‘Agent and Casting Director’.

The profile adds that he has ‘consulted for every major UK TV station and many international broadcasters and producers’.

He has also worked with a several drama schools as a tutor and casting agent.

Deitch, of High Street, Willden, Beds, was order to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty to two counts of making indecent photos of a child.

He must also pay £1,500 in prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £60.

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