A male NHS midwife caught with hundreds of child sex abuse images walked free from court yesterday.
Scott Butler, 39, was found to have more than 400 indecent images of children as young as four on his devices, as well as extreme pornography depicting rape, strangulation and sex with animals.
Police dramatically swooped on Butler’s workplace, St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London, to arrest him on December 3 last year.
Scott Butler, 39, (seen outside court yesterday) was found to have more than 400 indecent images of children as young as four on his devices
The judge who yesterday sentenced him to 12 months in prison suspended for 18 months at Inner London Crown Court said a reference letter written by his partner had saved him from jail.
Butler had previously pleaded guilty to three counts of making indecent photographs of a child and two counts of possessing extreme pornographic images.
The experienced midwife, who studied nursing at Coventry University in 2004, was caught after police traced sick internet uploads back to his personal devices.
Upon searching his flat in Lambeth, south London, detectives found 366 indecent videos of children and 77 photos on his mobile phone, a hard drive and a Toshiba laptop.
Some of the images were Category A – the most serious possible, the court heard.
Judge Mr Recorder Michael Wood QC said it was a shame Butler would never be able to work in his role again amid a shortage of midwives.
‘This is a real tragedy for so many people,’ he said.
‘You qualified as a midwife and will never be able to work in this role again.
‘It is a shame, not just for yourself but for the community as a whole as I understand there is a desperate shortage of midwives.’
He added: ‘As you have said, you were falling down a slippery slope and things became worse and worse.
‘These images are of real and vulnerable children and females who are threatened or coerced into these acts.
‘There is a world out there in which women and girls are forced into performing extreme acts that are not only degrading but are painful and dangerous.’
A spokesman from St George’s NHS Trust said Butler was suspended immediately when the allegations came to light, and the Nursing and Midwifery Council was notified
Mr Recorder Wood said the offences crossed the custody threshold but he took into account Butler’s guilty plea, the fact that he is seeking help and the glowing reference from his partner – who he met working in the neo-natal unit.
‘This case clearly crosses the custody threshold and I would be perfectly entitled to send you to prison,’ he said.
‘You owe your partner a huge debt for that letter written on your behalf.
‘She stood by you and I would suggest you stand by her because she has made all the difference in keeping you out of prison today.’
The judge ordered that Butler’s devices containing the images be destroyed, that he cannot have any unsupervised contact with children and gave him an 18-month community order.
Senior Crown Prosecutor Kate Shilton (please keep some of this) said: ‘Butler was a registered NHS midwife who came into contact with young children every day in a London hospital. But unknown to anyone, he had a large collection of pornographic images of children as young as four years old.
‘Butler was caught out after uploading images to a social networking website, which police were able to trace back to him. He was arrested while working. The prosecution case included evidence from a forensic analysis of Butler’s devices, which showed the extent of his interest in preadolescent children.
‘Crimes against children are abhorrent and the CPS will always seek to bring to justice those who fuel the sexual exploitation of children.’
In a 2010 interview with Coventry University’s Health magazine, Butler said he had been mocked for becoming a male midwife but the positive responses outweighed the negative.
‘I love the work – caring for pregnant women is such a special relationship and you need very different skills to the ones needed for looking after a person who is ill,’ he added.
A spokesman from St George’s NHS Trust said Butler was suspended immediately when the allegations came to light, and the Nursing and Midwifery Council was notified.
Butler had worked at the hospital as a midwife and resuscitation training officer since June 2017, and all employment checks were carried out at the time, the spokesman added.
An NSPCC spokesman said: ‘Within many of the images viewed by Butler were children experiencing unimaginable distress and suffering; the effects of which can last a lifetime without the right help and support.
‘The internet is consistently being used as a gateway to offending and shows why we need stronger legislation and regulation of online sites. The NSPCC will continue to lobby the government to ensure the proposed Online Safety Bill is not only robust and effective, but has the safety of children at its heart.’
Tom Scott, Interim Director of Professional Regulation at the National Midwifery Council, said: ‘We successfully applied for an interim suspension order to be put in place during the police investigation, which means Mr Butler can’t practise. We’ll continue to take forward our own fitness to practise investigation into this deeply concerning matter.’