Indecent images conviction that has ruined hero

Photo Neil Cross'Kate Adie with Gareth Crook and PC Andrew Sumner at the Pride of Lancashire Award Ceremony
Photo Neil Cross'Kate Adie with Gareth Crook and PC Andrew Sumner at the Pride of Lancashire Award Ceremony

A former soldier who saved a stabbed schoolgirl’s life was sentenced for possessing indecent images of children and animals.

Gareth Crook, 37, of no fixed abode, came to the aid of Jessica Knight, then 14, who had been brutally attacked in Astley Park, Chorley, in January 2008.

Kristopher Beddar, then 21, was jailed for life to serve a minimum of 12 years behind bars before he will be eligible for parole after being found guilty of attempted murder.

Crook was commended by Judge Russell and received a number of bravery awards including the Pride of Lancashire awards in 2010 and a Chorley Smile award.

But Crook, wearing an orange T-shirt and grey prison vest, appeared by video link from HMP Forest Bank at Preston Crown Court after pleading guilty to three counts of making indecent images, three of possessing them, two of possessing extreme pornographic images and one of possessing a prohibited image of a child,

Judge Michael Byrne accepted he had already served the equivalent of a four-month sentence because he had been in custody for two months.

He imposed a si- month sentence suspended for two years, with supervision, a requirement to attend an internet sex offenders programme, and imposed a Sexual Offences Prevention Order restricting Crook’s internet use.

Prosecuting, Francis McEntee said the charges related to nine category A images – the most serious – three category B images and 121 category C images. Eight images involved animals.

The court heard on March 21, police visited an address in Chorley where the defendant had stayed and later traced him to his then home in Studfold in Chorley.

They seized his Fujitsu laptop.

When arrested, he told police: “Okay I’ve done it, I can’t remember how many times I’ve done it.

“ I stumbled across it and I carried on looking.”

Defending, Daniel Prowse said: “The defendant had carried out tours of Bosnia and Northern Ireland on peace keeping tours.

“In 2008, he was cycling through Astley Park when he found a 14-year-old girl who had been stabbed 27 times.

“He utilised his combat medical training and stemmed the bleeding and saved her life, and later gave evidence at the attempted murder trial of a man charged with the offence.

“This is not only a man of previous good character, it is a man of exemplary character.

“He has fallen a long way as a result of depression and alcohol difficulties he had.”

Judge Michael Byrne said: “You should understand you will have this sentence hanging over you for two years.”