POLICE found 23 indecent images of children on two devices owned by an Invergordon man who had worked as a crew member of a Royal Navy training vessel.
As part of the investigation into Simon Richardson (48), Seaforth Crescent, his home was searched and also the training ship on which he served.
Twenty images were found on his lap top and a further three on a portable hard drive. Both devices were stored at his home.
All the images fell into the lowest category C – meaning they depicted some sexually suggestive content.
Richardson appeared at Tain Sheriff Court today to admit two charges.
He pleaded guilty to making indecent photos or pseudo photos of children between March 5 and March 11, 2016, at Seaforth Crescent, Invergordon, or elsewhere to the prosecution unknown.
He further admitted making indecent photographs or pseudo photographs of children between June 1, 2012, and July 11, 2016, at Seaforth Crescent.
Sentence was deferred for Criminal Justice social work reports.
The court heard Richardson had an analogous offence dating back to 2012 when he received 300 hours’ unpaid work for possessing indecent images.
Prosecutor Alison Wylie said that officers had applied for a search warrant after receiving a tip-off regarding Richardson.
She said: “Police received information relating to indecent images of children that were linked to a billing address which was the accused’s home address.”
A warrant was granted on August 12 last year to search the training vessel on which Richardson worked. The warrant was executed on August 15 when the training vessel was docked at James Watt Dock at Greenock.
Crew members, including Richardson, were put up at a local hotel while the search was underway.
Ms Wylie said: “On August 16, the accused asked to speak to police. Two officers met him at the hotel. He appeared visibly upset and on being asked if he was okay he replied: ‘I want to admit to downloading the images. You will not find anything on board the boat. They are on a micro card at home in my bedroom. I have told my mother’.”
Richardson’s confession led officers to obtain a search warrant for his home address which he shares with his parents and sister.
Ms Wylie said three officers with specialist software had later located the offending images on a Acer laptop and a portable hard drive.
She said there had been no live images on the laptop but 20 thumbnails had been recovered. These related to the period March 5-11.
Three images had been found on the hard drive created between June 1, 2012, and July 11, 2016.
The court was told Richardson was no longer employed with the Royal Navy and was not working.
Sheriff Kevin Drummond told Richardson he was deferring the case until July 10 for background reports. He said he would hear the plea of mitigation from Richardson’s lawyer on that date.
In the interim the Sheriff placed Richardson on the Sex Offenders’ Register.