A disgraced former police officer who was found with more than 16,000 indecent images of children when he was being investigated for exchanging explicit messages and images with three different women while on duty will discover his fate on Monday.
Sacked PSNI Constable 34-year-old Robert Jason Ainscough had been due to be sentenced for misconduct in public office and making indecent images of children at Craigavon Crown Court today (Friday) but adjourning the case to Monday, Judge Roseanne McCormick QC said “I want to consider all matters very carefully.”
Ainscough, originally from Dublin but whose address was given as c/o Lurgan PSNI station, faced two separate indictments where he had pleaded guilty to six counts of misconduct in public office on one and 13 charges of making indecent images of children on the other with all the offences committed in various dates between 19 February 2014 and 16 September 2016.
Opening the facts of the case today, prosecuting counsel Nicola Auret told the court about the misconduct charges first, describing how Ainscough exchanged sexually explicit messages, including texts, photographs and videos with three different women while on duty.
In addition Ainscough, who was a constable for eight years before before dismissed as a result of the charges, used the police computer to access and share personal information on two of the women.
Ms Auret told the court how the offences were brought to light in September 2016 when one of the women sent the messages she had received from Ainscough to the Craigavon PSNI Facebook page.
“The photos indicated a male in full police uniform exposing his penis,” said the lawyer adding that while the woman declined to make a statement of formal complaint, she allowed investigating officers to take screen shots of her phone.
Ainscough was arrested and his iPhone 6 was seized for examination which uncovered the fact he had been sending and receiving sexually explicit messages, photos and videos with three different women while on duty.
All three refused to make formal police statements.
Ms Auret described how the photos and videos were taken by Ainscough in the toilet of Banbridge PSNI station while he was in full uniform and his private parts exposed.
She said while it was a fact that Ainscough had sent the material while on duty, it was not the case that he had been ignoring or failing to complete his other duties as a police officer.
It was also a matter to be taken into consideration, said the lawyer, that “all the texting was consensual”.
It was that investigation however that led police to seize computer hard drives and memory sticks from Ainscough’s home and Ms Auret told the court that when those items were examined, detectives found a total of 16,681 indecent images of children.
Ms Auret outlined how the large majority, some 16,673 images and videos, had been classified in the lowest category C, with eight being classified as B.
In an impassioned plea in mitigation, defence QC Charles McCreanor conceded that while “it’s his own fault,” Ainscough has “effectively lost everything”.
“He has lost his career, he has lost his good character, he has lost the respect that he had…he has lost out on every front imaginable,” said the lawyer adding that Ainscough’s mental health has spiralled downwards to such an extent that there had been “suicidal ideations”.
Mr McCreanor revealed the month that Ainscough had spent in jail on remand before getting bail had been entirely spent “alone, in solitary confinement” and appearing before the court today, he is “very much a shell of what he might have been…contrite, ashamed, embarrassed.”
Handing up two letters of recognition from Ainscough’s eight years of service, the senior barrister urged Judge McCormick “to be as merciful and lenient as you can.”
The judge freed Ainscough on continuing bail until Monday morning.