MasterChef contestant who had child abuse images tried to blackmail police

A former MasterChef contestant arrested for downloading sick child sex abuse photos tried to blackmail police in a bid to get the charges dropped.

Caerwyn Ash, who was a quarter finalist in the 2016 series of the popular BBC cookery show, claimed he had sexually explicit material involving South Wales Police officers and threatened to send copies to various media outlets around the world if they didn’t hat their inquiry.

He was later convicted by a jury of having 20 indecent photographs of a child and five indecent videos of a child the latter of which were all in the highest category.

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On Thursday, June 22, a sentencing hearing at Newport Crown Court heard that Ash was also convicted of possessing 35 videos of extreme pornography, including acts of bestiality, and 50 still photographs in the same category.

Ash was also found guilty of perverting the course of justice as a result of his attempt to blackmail police, reports Wales Online.

The former academic, who represented himself in court, had claimed he was innocent and that a "whole list of other people” had access to his computer, adding that “they had access to everything in the house”.

He told the court that he had no time to prepare a defence because that all his documents were “destroyed" on the day before the trial.

He maintained throughout the proceedings that he had never seen the photos and videos used in evidence. ”The defendant has always stated that if he had ever seen such an image, he would have been compelled to inform the police," he told the court.

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He added that he had no previous convictions and that his and others' lives had been "destroyed" following his arrest in 2019.

He also said he had done work for charity such as for mental health and homelessness – had endured two decades in a "controlling" relationship and had been diagnosed with PTSD in prison.

Sentencing, Judge Wayne Beard said he did not accept Ash's statement that his threats to police was "simply an attempt to get things noticed in terms of any investigation" but that he had "no doubt that your intent was to try to bring the charges that you faced to and end."

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The judge added that the blackmail "strikes at the heart of justice", describing it as "manipulative and cynical", though acknowledged it was "unlikely to ever succeed in any way, shape or form".

Noting that Ash had continued to deny any knowledge of the images and did not accept the jury's verdict, he said: "In my judgement therefore there is no prospect at this stage of any rehabilitation taking place by means of the probation service and the types of courses they involve sex offenders in."

Ash was sentenced to three years in prison in total, and subjected to a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years, and he will also be on the sex offenders' register for 10 years.

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