A retired BBC producer who downloaded hundreds of indecent images of children has been spared jail after a judge decided a prison sentence would be “particularly challenging”.
Victor Melleney, who worked on shows such as Question Time and Panorama, stored 832 indecent images of children on a range of devices which were discovered during raids at his Kensington home and a property in Shepherd’s Bush in 2018.
The 76-year-old admitted that he was addicted to legal pornography, but said he had no interest in indecent images of children.
When he was arrested, 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.
Kingston Crown Court heard 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.
Weapons and noxious gas found in property
The officers also found illegal stun guns belonging to Melleney.
He admitted four charges of possession of prohibited weapons for discharge of noxious gas, namely three tasers and CS gas spray, at an earlier hearing.
The jury acquitted Melleney of intentionally downloading the child sex abuse images, but convicted him of possessing indecent images of children.
Judge Simon Bryan QC handed Melleney a 20-month prison sentence for the image offence and two months for the gun offences, suspended for two years due to his poor health and recent heart attack. He must also go to a rehabilitation activity requirement of 40 days, and be on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.
The judge also ordered the forfeiture and deferred destruction of his devices, as they will form part of the Bichard Inquiry into child protection.
Prison sentence would be ‘challenging’
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 in 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.”