AN ambulanceman who downloaded child porno-graphy onto a work computer escaped a jail sentence because of his heroic work and reputation. Nicolas Colclough, 44, of Canterbury Way, Stevenage, twice used a computer at an ambulance depot to download depraved

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AN ambulanceman who downloaded child porno-graphy onto a work computer escaped a jail sentence because of his heroic work and reputation.

Nicolas Colclough, 44, of Canterbury Way, Stevenage, twice used a computer at an ambulance depot to download depraved images of young children, then refused to own up during an internal investigation, Wood Green Crown Court heard.

Judge Recorder Malcolm Knott, presiding, said saving Colclough from jail "was not an easy decision", but took into account his genuine remorse and loss of a "first-rate" 17-year career as a medical technician.

Colclough was based at the Bounds Green ambulance depot, working for the London Ambulance Service.

The father-of-one had a faultless record and was praised by ambulance bosses for his help after the London Docklands bombing in 1996.

But the paedophile's world crashed down around him after two "moments of madness", said Laura Brickman, in mitigation.

She said: "He has always been most interested in the internet and, like many, he discovered there was a world out there, a world that was not always available in magazines.

"On these two occasions that led to his downfall, he opened a message sent to him. In these moments of madness, lasting 20 minutes at a time, he logged on and discovered indecent images of children.

"He viewed initially out of curiosity, then after, almost as an addict would do, he viewed them again the next day."

The London Ambulance Service launched an internal inquiry after the images were discovered - classed as category three seriousness on a scale of one to five - but Colclough dragged his colleagues under the spotlight by refusing to own up, fearing the consequences.

He was sacked for gross misconduct in July 2004 as police investigated, but maintained his innocence until the first day of his trial last November, pleading guilty to six counts of downloading child porn and one count of possession. Eleven similar charges were ordered to lie on file.

His wife, "beside herself with shame", has stood by him with their eight-month-old child, added Miss Brickman.

Sentencing Colcough on Friday, Judge Knott said: "Downloading child pornography from the internet is a filthy business. The stuff you downloaded didn't fall into the worst category, but it was bad enough.

"You have to understand when these young children are subjected to this horrible treatment, it is done for your entertainment. That is the measure of your guilt.

"When this material was discovered on your computer at work, you did not have the courage to admit you were the person who had downloaded it.

"As a result, suspicion fell on your colleagues. That is a horrible thing.

"You are a man of exemplary good character, and you have lost your job after seventeen-and-a-half years in the ambulance service, during which your performance was first rate. It is a tragedy that you have thrown that away."

Unemployed Colclough was sentenced to a 12-month community rehabilitation order, banned from working with children and ordered to pay £580 costs.

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