Senior US official living in Thrapston downloaded child abuse images

A high-ranking civilian serving in the US Air Force was caught with more than 1,000 child abuse images at his Thrapston home.

Thursday, 6th September 2018, 6:00 am

Mark Illich, 43, was arrested after police intelligence led them to two homes in Oundle and Thrapston in 2015.

On June 26 police executed an early morning warrant at Illich’s home in Sissinghurst Drive, Thrapston, and seized devices including a laptop and desktop computer.

On Tuesday (September 4), prosecutor Henry James told Northampton Crown Court indecent images involving a ‘significant’ number of children were found.

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A detailed but complicated investigation discovered 110 category A images, 42 category B images and 786 category C images, category A being the most severe.

An extreme pornographic image and 712 prohibited images were also found in offences taking place between 2006 and 2015.

Illich denied downloading the images but changed his plea before his trial.

The court heard Illich was a senior analyst at the US Air Force with enhanced security clearance, a role he had been in since 2000.

He had been suspended on full $6,000 a month pay since the investigation began and made to remain in the UK until the outcome of his case.

But the Home Office refused to renew his Visa, leaving his UK status unclear.

Mitigating, Gudrun Young said he had been left “effectively in limbo” and almost certainly facing the sack.

She said: “He wishes to return home as soon as possible.

“He will live with his wife and her mother and realises that his employment will be terminated.

“He will have to attempt to find some means of supporting himself.”

Miss Young added that he was subjected to physical abuse from his father as a child.

The court also heard that Illich had been deployed to Afghanistan in 2004 and was exposed to ‘extremely disturbing’ material seized from the Taliban.

Miss Young added: “There is no doubt that being exposed to materials of that nature does something to your brain.

“It clearly engaged him in some behaviour that he now accepts was wholly, wholly without excuse.”

Sentencing, Her Honour Judge Lucking said Illich had embarrassed his country and his government.

She said: “This is a serious fall from grace.

“It’s quite clear that you will lose your good name, lose your employment and no doubt have to start all over again.”

Illich was jailed for 15 months suspended for two years, as well as being made the subject of a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order and being ordered to sign the Sex Offender Register for 10 years.

But no requirements for unpaid work was imposed as part of the sentence to allow him to return to the US.

Illich was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £2,500 within 60 days.

A further charge of distributing an indecent image will lie on file.