Combat veteran’s crime ‘abhorrent’, says judge
A top pilot has avoided jail despite posseessing a collection of child abuse photographs and videos.
Andrew Lloyd MBE, 59, formerly known as Andrew Cubin, had an “exceptional military record” during a 20-year career in the Royal Air Force, flying fighter jets on 88 combat missions and forming part of the Red Arrows display team.
But a court heard he was sacked as a British Airways pilot after he previously admitted three counts of possessing indecent images of children – including 48 in the most serious category.
During his sentencing hearing at Swindon Crown Court on Tuesday, prosecutor Robert Welling said police attended his previous address, in Kings Meadow, Crudwell, near Malmesbury in Wiltshire, in February last year following a tip-off about two indecent images being uploaded to the internet.
Officers seized a laptop and hard drive at his home and a forensic analysis revealed 48 category A still and moving child sexual abuse images were found.
A total of 39 category B still and moving images were also discovered while 10 category C images were also found.
Lloyd told police officers during a custody interview that he was searching for images of his 14-year-old daughter, who died in his arms in 2016.
He claimed that she had uploaded photographs of herself in her underwear at the request of a male online before her death.
But Mr Welling said his claims did not account for why he also collected indecent images of underage boys and why the images had been kept in separate labelled folders on a hard drive.
The court heard that during his career, when he was known as Andy “Cubes” Cubin, he flew in the Red Arrows and flew fighter jets on 88 combat missions.
Defending, Nicholas Wragg said his client’s 14-year-old daughter Hannah died despite his frantic attempts to save her life following an unexpected cardiac arrest in 2016. He said Wiltshire air ambulance had been called to the incident, but their medics were unable to save her.
Following Hannah’s death, Lloyd and his wife, who supported him in court from the public gallery, discovered a number of photographs depicting their daughter in her underwear on her mobile phone. Mr Wragg said a male on Instagram had requested the images.
The police were handed the phone and no investigation took place. Mr Wragg said the defendant took it upon himself to go onto the internet to find the person who requested the images, but now accepts it was a “hopeless prospect”.
As part of his own search for the male on the internet, he had entertained trading images of other children in order to locate the person who received images of his daughter.
He said Lloyd flew fighter jets on 88 combat missions whilst serving with the Royal Air Force and has been an air accident investigation expert witness.
“He has seen some particularly awful things, child bodies and people who have come to an unfortunate end”, Mr Wragg said. He added that Lloyd had witnessed “many of his friends and colleagues die”.
Mr Wragg told the court that the press coverage around his conviction had a “profound” effect on Lloyd and that he had lost his job as a pilot with British Airways. He said Lloyd “lost so much in his life” and said the “intense media reporting” of the case resulted in his wife’s car being keyed.
He said Lloyd, now of Wood Close, Windsor, Berkshire, has undertaken work with StopSo, which provides specialist therapy to sex offenders.
In a report, counsellor Amanda Burbage said he suffered from complex PTSD as a result of his military service and the death of his daughter.
Mr Wragg added that “this would simply never have happened” had he not discovered the semi-nude images on Hannah’s phone.
He described his client as “intelligent, capable and extremely remorseful”, and asked Judge Keith Cutler CBE to consider a community sentence rather than custody. He said Lloyd had undertaken “immense work” from the moment he was arrested, including psycho-sexual counselling.
Judge Cutler said Lloyd’s crimes were a “very serious matter” and “rightly regarded as appalling and abhorrent in society”.
Describing his offending as “unique”, he imposed a 36-month community order in which Lloyd must complete a sexual offending programme and 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days.
He said he accepted what the defence claims as an explanation of how a man with an “impeccable” military background found himself in court.
Judge Cutler said he accepted the defendant’s “true remorse” and accepted his likelihood of further offending is very low.
Sympathising with Lloyd’s losses, he added: “One thing you haven’t lost is faithful support of your wife.
“This gives me hopes for the future. Together you can go forward working with the probation services, with the counsellors, you can guarantee, I hope, that this is never going to happen again.”
He also imposed a five-year sexual harm prevention order. The prohibitions will be set at a later date, but will definitely include the requirement that Lloyd does not delete his internet search history. He said the order will “reassure the public”.