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Trojan horse defence results in child porn acquittal

A man walked free from court in Reading, England yesterday after prosecutors accepted that a malicious program known as a Trojan horse was infecting his PC and that this probably downloaded the pornographic pictures for which he had been arrested.25 Apr 2003

Karl Schofield of Whitley denied that he had downloaded 14 pornographic pictures of children onto his computer.

A defence expert was able to prove that a Trojan horse existed on his computer. This is a program that is installed onto a computer without the owner's knowledge, usually by deceiving the owner about what he or she is getting when opening an e-mail attachment or downloading a file from the internet. Once installed, the Trojan horse can carry out malicious acts such as destroying data or, as in Schofield's defence, downloading illegal material from the internet.

Mr Schofield told the Reading Evening Post that: "The specialist found the day before the images were downloaded the program was implemented, so there's a direct correlation between them".

A communications engineer, Schofield lost work and was forced to leave Reading after he was attacked by vigilantes following reports of his arrest. He said, "I am relieved because it has been an awful two years."

This is probably the first case of its kind in which a Trojan horse infection has been used as a defence.

The hunt for internet child paedophiles is a high priority for law enforcement officials at the moment. According to the BBC the ongoing Operation Ore enquiry has resulted in 1,600 arrests so far, with 6,500 names under investigation.