Scientist who helped design EU satellite spared jail for child porn

Married scientist, 56, who helped design satellite for the EU space programme admits building secret child porn collection while working away from his family – as he avoids jail

  • Clive Smith, 56, admitted secretely compiling a stash of 2,927 child porn images
  • The scientist said it was because he felt ‘isolated’ during foreign assignments
  • Father-of-two worked as a mechanical engineer designing the Sentinel 1 satellite
  • Smith, of Stockport, was spared jail at Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester
  • Judge slammed his ‘distorted satisfaction’ for creating a market for child porn

A British scientist who helped build satellite aircraft for the EU’s space programme was spared jail after he was caught with a stash of almost 3,000 child porn images. 

Clive Smith, 56, admitted secretly compiling a library of child pornography whilst working away from his family, but claimed it was because he felt ‘isolated’ during foreign assignments. 

The twice married father-of-two logged onto explicit websites and downloaded images of youngsters during trips to Norway, Belgium and Luxembourg.

A judge slammed him for fuelling demand and creating a market for child porn and said his ‘distorted satisfaction’ is part of the ‘reason children are being abused’. 

But he was spared jail after admitting to collecting the library of images.  

Father-of-two Clive Smith, 56, admitted secretly compiling a library of online child pornography whilst working away from his family

The mechanical engineer helped design the Sentinel 1 satellite, which launched in 2014 and tracked oil spills and sea ice on Earth from space.

He was arrested after police seized laptops during a raid on his home in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

Officers found almost 3,000 indecent stills and moving images of children aged between 11 and 16 compiled over a period of three years.

Examinations of the computer equipment also found a link to a film entitled ‘eight-year-old girl rape by sex tourist’ on the web history.

At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, Smith admitted possessing and making indecent images between 2015 and 2018 and was ordered to sign the Sex Offender register for seven years.

He was also sentenced to four months jail suspended for 18 months and was ordered to abide by the terms of a sexual harm prevention order. His family are standing by him.

The court heard Smith works as an engineer specialising in space technology across the globe. 

The mechanical engineer helped design the Sentinel 1 satellite, which launched in 2014 and tracked oil spills and sea ice on Earth from space

He worked as self employed contractor for a Belgian company which helped design satellite rockets and systems for the EU’s Earth Observation programme Copernicus.

His fall from grace began in November 2018 when police searched his home following intelligence about his secret double life.

Carl Hargan prosecuting said 2,927 indecent images were found including a nine minute 37 second video of girl aged between 14 and 16 years engaging in sexual activity of the most serious category.

Another 40 second movie showed two children aged 12 to 15 before it moved to a third film featuring a girl aged between 11 and 13 posing naked during a professional photoshoot.

Mr Hargan said: ‘An expert report said a high number of images were found on one of the computers in the recycled bin and a number also seemed to have been deleted. 

‘It’s right to say the period of which the images where possessed the expert stated a lot of the images had been deleted and it’s not possible to determine all the dates and the time.

‘The children were approximately aged eight to 16-years of age in the majority and then children of eight to 11- years old on the others.

Smith gave no comment in police interview. His lawyer Miss Katherine Pierpoint said in mitigation: ‘His wife and the family stand by him.

Mr Smith is deeply ashamed to find himself before these courts it’s the first time he’s ever been in trouble in his 56 years.

‘He appreciates why such offences are viewed so seriously by the courts and on reflection, he appreciates why there are. 

A judge at Minshull Street Crown Court (pictured) slammed him for fuelling demand and creating a market for child porn and said his ‘distorted satisfaction’ is part of the ‘reason children are being abused’

‘His background and what was happening in his life in 2015 goes some way to explain what happened but in no way excuses why a man who lived a law-abiding hard-working family life found himself using the internet to download these images.

‘He is someone who has been married for a number of years and he has two grown-up daughters – one from a previous relationship and one from his current wife. 

‘He has always worked hard and has a background in engineering, had various positions and extremely good jobs in different parts of the world.

‘In 2015 he found himself working in Belgium and there were real problems with him being isolated in a flat on his own.

‘He started to use the internet and started to download these images. As time went on and he continued to be isolated, this behaviour became more prolific and it started to be a big problem in his life. 

‘He was struggling to deal with the feelings of guilt and life and when the police came through his door it certainly was the wake up call that he needed.

‘Since that period of time he is extremely ashamed and ashamed and embarrassed about the effects this is now having on his family.

‘He’s somebody deemed a low risk of reoffending.’

Sentencing, Judge Bernadette Baxter told Smith: ‘It seems whilst you were working away from family and dissatisfied with elements of your life you decided to trawl the internet and came into possession of these images.

‘You are the reason children are being abused as people like you create a market for that kind of imagery and can receive some sort of distorted satisfaction from it.’ 

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