Man blames Trojan horse for child pornography, Sophos Anti-Virus reports

August 01, 2003 Sophos Press Release

GavelAccording to a BBC News Online report a British man has been cleared of storing child pornography on his computer, but says he may sue the police.

Julian Green, 45, of Torquay, Devon was cleared in court in July of 13 charges of making indecent images, claiming computer malware was to blame. His solicitor, Chris Bittlestone, confirmed that Green was considering legal action against the authorities.

Green's defence counsel Peter Ashman had said during the hearing: "Mr Green had no knowledge of the images on his computer ... they could have been put there without him knowing about it."

Green was arrested after 172 indecent pictures of children were found on his hard drive. During the investigation Green spent nine days in prison and three months in a bail hostel. Green described the entire experience as "nine months of hell".

Having been granted legal aid Green brought in Martin Gibbs, a computer forensics consultant, as an expert witness who identified 11 Trojan horses on Green's computer, capable of carrying out actions without the user's knowledge or permission.

"I would recommend everyone with a computer to keep anti-virus programs up to date," said Green.

David Sapieca for the prosecution offered no evidence at Exeter Crown Court, "We don't accept the conclusions of the defence expert report but there were already other issues in the case regarding the history of the computer itself. We cannot show that Mr Green downloaded the images on to the computer, so the Crown reluctantly offer no evidence in this case."

Green's acquittal follows the case of another British man, Karl Schofield of Whitley, who was cleared in April under similar circumstances.

Schofield, 39, was attacked by vigilantes as he awaited his court case in Reading. Schofield was accused of creating 14 indecent images of children on his computer, but testimony was given by a defence witness that a Trojan horse had been found on his PC. Schofield was subsequently acquitted.

"Some Trojan horses have the ability to take 'remote control' of your PC," explains Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos Anti-Virus. "A remote hacker can view what you are doing, take over your keyboard, steal information and even upload files to your computer if they wish. There can be no excuse for home users surfing the internet not to be running up-to-date anti-virus software and a personal firewall to keep their systems protected."