Chris Langham gets 10 months for child porn

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MAIDSTONE, Kent, Sep 14 (Reuters) Actor Chris Langham was jailed for 10 months today after being found guilty of downloading child pornography from the Internet.

The award-winning comedian and star of the BBC's ''The Thick of It'' was convicted of 15 child pornography offences last month.

The 58-year-old father-of-five watched at his family home in Kent Internet videos of young girls being sexually abused and tortured.

One of the films showed a British girl aged eight, tied up and blindfolded, being abused by her father, police said. She has since been traced and removed from harm.

Passing sentence, Judge Philip Statman said: ''Without people who are willing to pay for images over the Internet, those who film these despicable acts and viciously exploit these children would have a much-restricted market place.

''You always had a choice, which is more than those children had. With a push of the button all of those images could have easily been deleted.'' Wearing a grey suit and looking frail and drawn, Langham waved and blew kisses to his friends and family as he was led from the dock. He will serve five months in jail.

Outside Maidstone Crown Court, Detective Superintendent David Shipley, of Kent Police, said the downloaded videoes and stills showed ''despicable'' child abuse.

''The judge recognised that people like Mr Langham are fuelling the abuse of children around the world,'' he said.

During the trial, the jury was instructed to find Langham not guilty of indecently assaulting a teenager.

The woman, now in her 20s, came forward after a police raid on Langham's home. She told the court she had lost her virginity to Langham when she was 14.

Giving evidence, Langham said he downloaded the images and videos when researching a character for a BBC comedy.

He said he had developed a paedophile character called Pedro with the catchphrase ''I'm only a minor offender.'' He also told the court that he had been abused himself as a child and wanted to ''look into the eyes'' of adult abusers on the Internet.

He said he had been ''arrogant'' for looking at child porn on his computer and said he realised there was no excuse.

Describing himself as ''depressingly normal'' for a man of his age, he told the court he regularly looked at adult porn on the Internet.

He was arrested in November 2005 during Operation Ore, a huge police investigation into British users of American child pornography Web sites.

Detectives found child pornography on two computers and a spare hard drive.

Reuters RAR VP0013

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