Sex offender who took pictures of girls at running events jailed

David Murrell has been jailed after admitting indecent images offences

David Murrell has been jailed after admitting indecent images offences - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary

A sex offender who took indecent close-up pictures of girls taking part in running and gymnastics events has been jailed.

David Murrell, 46, a former member of a Norwich-based running club, was found to have downloaded hundreds of indecent images of children from the internet.

David Murrell, a coach with the Norfolk Gazelles, organised a virtual relay challenge, ‘Don’t pass i

David Murrell has been jailed after admitting indecent images offences - Credit: David Murrell

Norwich Crown Court heard he also took his own pictures of children competing at sporting events.

The images were found in a concealed folder on his phone, located in an app which required a PIN number to access.

Police also discovered chats Murrell had had with others online, including one where he talked about "sexually abusing children".

Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

Murrell appeared for sentencing on Wednesday (May 4), having admitted three counts of making indecent images of a child, one count of distributing an indecent image and six counts of taking indecent photos.

Jailing Murrell for 21 months Judge Katharine Moore said it had been a "troubling course of conduct" by the defendant who she insisted posed "a risk to female children".

Katharine Moore, who has just been appointed a criminal judge, the first female criminal judge perma

Katharine Moore, who has just been appointed a criminal judge, the first female criminal judge permanently sitting in Norwich. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

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She said he had "exploited" what appeared to be a legitimate reason for taking pictures with the girls he photographed at running and gymnastic events "unaware you were taking indecent images".

Murrell, who the court heard had tried to take his own life, was told by Judge Moore that he knew what he had been viewing and knew what images he had been taking and that his motivation had been his own sexual gratification.

The court had previously heard from Chris Youell, prosecuting, that pictures taken by the defendant of girls at running events in June and August 2019, included girls wearing "skin tight running shorts and sports bra".

Murrell also took pictures of girls at gymnastics events in December 2019 with the images showing "close ups of genital areas".

He was caught by police after an indecent image of a child uploaded by the defendant led to officers executing a search warrant at his home in July 2020.

Devices, including a mobile phone and hard drive were recovered and searched, and found to contain indecent images of children.

He was found to have downloaded and taken indecent images of children over a three-year period between 2017 and 2020.

Some of the images were category A, the most serious, but there were also category B and C images found.

These included 501 category C images, 424 of which were downloaded from the internet and 77 of them taken by the defendant, of which some were duplicates.

Mr Youell said: "There clearly was in the background of his life something where he was fantasising about young children and young girls.

"He was talking about it on the internet and taking pictures and downloading images."

Murrell, of Camperdown in Great Yarmouth, was made the subject of restraining orders against the victims, and in some cases their parents, for four years and 10 years respectively, meaning he cannot contact them directly or indirectly.

In addition Murrell was made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) for 10 years and was put on the sex offenders register for 10 years.

As previously reported, the mother of one of the children who had pictures taken of her read out a victim impact statement in which she described it as something she would never get over.

Damien Moore, mitigating, said Murrell wanted to apologise to the parents of the children involved and the children themselves.

He said the defendant was "a completely broken man" who has "lost everything" and was going to have to live the rest of his life with the "shame and embarrassment" of the offences he had committed.

Following Murrell's sentence Norfolk Gazelles, which Murrell used to be a member of, has issued a statement.

It said: "As a running club, Norfolk Gazelles aim to create and promote a safe, inclusive and empowering atmosphere for our members.

"We were shocked, outraged, but perhaps most of all devastated, when David Murrell's actions came to light. He was immediately removed from the club. 

"No one expects to have to deal with a situation like this and as you can probably imagine, feelings about David Murrell are still running extremely high.

"The club followed advice from Norfolk Constabulary and UKA/England Athletics during the police investigation.

"David Murrell has not been a member of Gazelles since these crimes were revealed and he was *never* in a position to coach any athlete aged under 18 during his time at the club."