Staffordshire police worker jailed for storing murder and postmortem images

A police worker who illegally downloaded and took home thousands of images, including those showing murder victims and postmortems, has been jailed for three years.

Darren Collins, a digital forensic specialist from Stafford, admitted misconduct in a public office last month after being sacked by Staffordshire police for gross misconduct.

Passing sentence at Birmingham crown court on Friday, Judge Henderson, compared the case to that of two police officers jailed last month for sharing photographs of two sisters, Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, murdered in London in June 2020. He said although Collins’s case was overall “less serious” it was worsened by the fact “there were a very large number of events over a long period”.

Collins, 56, accessed more than 3,000 images from police databases between January 2014 en Desember 2018 and police found more than 60 devices he used to store the images. No evidence was found to suggest the images had been shared.

The court heard Collins used a “back door” method to access images of murder scenes, including a deposition site, pictures taken at postmortem examinations, and others relating to road traffic collisions.

The judge said relatives of victims pictured in some of the images had been informed. “These people of course suffered dreadfully with the loss of their loved ones,” the judge said. “To discover now that you were looking [at the images] for nothing but gratuitous curiosity is a further grievous insult to them, their memory and their families. The behaviour of this defendant is utterly exceptional in my experience. This is a case which calls out for immediate custody.”

After his arrest in 2019, Collins, who had worked for Staffordshire police for 18 jare, said he viewed the images to further his knowledge of crime scenes and forensic science to progress his career.

His defence barrister, Kelly Cyples, said Collins suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of legitimate work on investigations into child abuse.

Sy het gese: “The crux of this case is that, op daardie stadium, Mr Collins certainly did not realise that what he was doing was criminal. He accepts and understands, with the benefit of hindsight, he should not have and was not permitted to look at other images beyond the parameters he had been given for his actual role.

“There was no malicious intent and the images have never been shown to anyone else.”

Staffordshire police, in a statement issued after Collins pleaded guilty, said a rigorous and extensive investigation had found no evidence that the images had been shared.

Dep Ch Cons Emma Barnett said: “I’m very sorry for the additional distress that Collins’ actions caused to the families of the victims involved. We expect the highest levels of honesty and integrity from all of our officers and staff and anyone who falls below these standards will be held to account.”

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