September 2012

Shell executive caught after accidentally printing child abuse images at work

Anthony Sturman, 59, sent six pages containing indecent material to a printer at the UK headquarters of Shell UK, where he had worked for 15 years.

Sturman, described as a ‘senior manager’ at the oil giant, was viewing child pornography at his country home in Kent when he pressed the print button.

His PC was linked to his work system, so the images were produced at his office.

Seven of the images printed were categorised at level four, the second highest level of abuse.

A colleague discovered the images when she unclogged a jammed printer on the 18th floor at the Shell Centre in Waterloo.

Across six pieces of paper, there were 42 indecent images, all in thumbnail size, Inner London Crown Court heard.

Darren Ponds, prosecuting, said Ruth Elliott, a colleague at Shell, discovered the images when she dealt with a jammed printer on June 28 last year.

“A jam had occurred and when that jam was fixed the backed up items began to print.

“A number of pages of indecent images of children were printed.”

Examination of the data from the printer revealed the items had come from Sturman’s computer and he was arrested two days later.

Yogain Chandarana, defending, said Sturman had destroyed the life he had built for himself.

“He has actively sought treatment for himself since his arrest 18 months ago,” he said.

“He has laid out his soul in front of probation officers,” he said.

“Not only does he understand his offending behaviour, but he’s started getting help for himself.

“He admits though there are many areas that he had to work on.

“He has caused a complete destruction of the life he had built, a destruction of his life because of his behaviour.”

“Clearly though, he did not intend to produce these images on a work printer.”

Judge Lindsay Burns sentenced Sturman to eight months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered him to take part in a sex offenders programme.

“You do not pose any significant risk, and the chance of you re-offending are at the lowest level,” he said.

“The level of intention in this case, sets this apart from other, far more serious cases.

“I have to save that the view you have taken, rather unhappily, is rare in the courts, with other offenders like you.

“You have shown considerable remorse and understanding for what you have done.’

Sturman, of Faversham, Kent, admitted one count of producing indecent images of children.

He will also have to sign onto the sex offenders register.