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Conviction overturned for abuse images bought from bookshop

The Waterstones defence

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A London judge has dismissed child pornography charges brought against a man who was prosecuted for possessing books bought from a bookshop.

The judge said if the Crown Prosecution Service really believed these books contained "Level One" images of child sexual abuse then it should take action against publishers or retailers rather than an individual.

The books in question are widely available - one is available in Waterstones around the corner from Vulture Towers, according to its website.

Stephen Neal, 39, from Walthamstow, was appealing his conviction on five counts of possessing indecent images of children in November. according to the Telegraph..

Lord Justice Richards quashed the guilty verdict and rejected CPS demands for a retrial.

Richards said: "It is, however, very unfair for a person in the position of Mr Neal to be prosecuted for possession of the photographs in these books in these circumstances.

"If the Crown Prosecution Service wishes to test whether the pictures in the books are indecent, the right way to deal with the matter is by way of prosecuting the publisher or retailer - not the individual purchaser," he told the court.

Richards said one of the books - Sally Mann's Still Time - was available from various bookshops and had also been on sale at an art gallery over the summer, but the CPS took no action against them. Another title seized by police - poetry and photography book The Age of Innocence by David Hamilton also appears to be widely available. Both books can be bought on Amazon.co.uk. ®

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