Former college lecturer had indecent images on his PC

POLITICAL party founder, social media commentator and former College of Further Education lecturer John Semenowicz has been found guilty of possessing indecent images of children.


Semenowicz, 61, admitted that the images were on devices owned by him but denied possession, using the statutory defence that he had not gone looking for the images and that he had not kept them for an unreasonable period of time.

Semenowicz set up the Guernsey Whig Party in 2018 and while the party did not take part in the 2020 election, Semenowicz himself did declare his candidacy but later withdrew.

His trial in the Royal Court was unusual in that much of the prosecution evidence was accepted by the defence, and the prosecution itself accepted that he had not sought the images.

Indecent images of children are graded on a C to A ascending scale in terms of their seriousness.

The case involved a total of 146 images and videos – 109 of category A, 18 of B and 19 of category C.

These had been found by police after they went to Semenowicz’s home after receiving information that he had indecent images of children. They seized 12 devices.

Semenowicz himself was the sole witness and through questioning by defence Advocate Sara Mallett he told the court that he had found the material in films that he had downloaded using a peer-to-peer file-sharing client on his desktop PC.

He had an interest in legal erotic material but this would involve people aged around 40. He had found the indecent material included in some of this material.

His college students had told him about the peer-to-peer software, he said, and before it was banned in 2010 he had downloaded a lot of music and films.

After discovering the indecent material of children he said he was shocked.

He said he did not look at it for pleasure, describing opening the images and videos as like putting his hand in sewage.

But he did not delete it, since he had heard that anything deleted from a PC could be recovered. He decided to copy all of the indecent material to separate hard drives and categorise it. He would then tell the police or a senior member of staff at the college about it.

The material was stored in a folder on the external drives, with a sub-folder labelled ‘FAV’ which police found to contain the most serious images and clips.

Crown Advocate Chris Dunford put it to Semenowicz that the name was an abbreviation of ‘favourite’, but he said it was a commonly-used abbreviation of ‘Films, Animations and Videos’, although he accepted there were no animations in the folder.

He used to keep the hard drives hidden but at one point he could not remember where they were and it was three to five years later that he found them again.

Semenowicz accepted that he had first opened an indecent image in 2006 but was still in possession of it and others 14 years later when he was arrested.

He said he was unable to argue with what the professionals said. He had great difficulty in recalling dates due to his suffering from Parkinson’s Disease.

While examination showed that all of the images had been viewed, Semenowicz said that just because the file was opened did not mean he had viewed it in the same way that a TV could be on but someone did not watch it.

‘I am certainly not interested in that material. I am certainly not a paedophile,’ he said.

‘I made some bad choices.’

In summing up, Advocate Mallett said Semenowicz was of impeccable character and the only issue was whether or not his keeping that material was for an unreasonable amount of time.

Judge Russell Finch, in his directions, said it was up to the jurats to decide this point. It took the nine jurats less than an hour to unanimously find Semenowicz guilty on all counts.

He will be sentenced in July. He was granted bail and made subject of a sex offenders’ notification order.

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