A court in London yesterday cleared a former top city lawyer of downloading indecent images of children.
Tim Varchmin, 44, stood trial at the Old Bailey. He had previously had his phone and other devices seized by police after they raided his Lancaster Gate home in West London in October 2014 following a tip-off from his internet provider.
Police found 112 indecent images and six films involving children on his devices. They also found 830mg of crystal meth.
German-born Varchmin previously had a high-flying career as a lawyer for Barclays, JP Morgan and others.
He consistently denied the charges against him. He said he had used the drug GHB, but the crystal meth and a crack pipe cops also found at his home were not his.
Varchmin admitted that he hosted chemsex parties, arranged via hook-ups apps.
He said after he and his former boyfriend, also German, were both diagnosed with a drug-resistant strain of HIV, he had engaged in numerous unprotected sexual encounters with other men.
‘It is a life-changing event. It’s something you have to come to terms with. That bonded us together but at the time we were fighting over it. We developed a more aggressive sexual life,’ he told the court.
‘We had the feeling that now these stages of HIV were not a concern any more, we could have more sex with other men, unprotected sex as well. That was our idea.’
However, he says he did not download the images to his devices and says one of his chemsex guests must have been to blame.
The court heard he would sometimes host up to three chemsex parties a week. He told jurors that he would allow guests ‘free reign’ to use his MacBook.
Asked why some of the search words relating to the indecent images were in German, he suggested his ex boyfriend might have been to blame for entering the search terms.
During the trial, jurors heard that all the images of children were of kids of Afro-Caribbean background. Asked by his barrister, David Cohen, about this, and whether he found, ‘people of that ethnicity attractive?’ he replied: ‘I don’t want to sound racist, it’s just not my… my preference.’
The jury found Varchmin not guilty after three hours of deliberation.
Afterwards, Varchmin said, ‘I am grateful that having been so badly let down by those I once trusted, the trust I chose to place in the jury has been repaid.
‘It is absolutely correct that the police act to protect children and minors from sexual abuse. It is absolutely right that those who perpetrate and view sexual abuse of children are prosecuted with vigor.
‘But it is disproportionate to prosecute every case simply as a point of policy where the evidence against a single individual is so weak and where any number of people could have committed the crime.
‘My mistake was to react badly to my HIV diagnosis, to trust those who did not deserve to be trusted and to find solace from the shock of my illness in the self-destructive world of chemsex.’
Varchmin’s lawyer, Richard Hendron, commented: ‘The chemsex scene in London is at epidemic proportions,’ reports the Daily Mail.
‘Hundreds of gay men are dying in London annually while many more are having their lives destroyed as they spiral out of control, unable to hold down jobs or maintain relationships.’
Rise in chemsex-related crime
In September, Gay Star News ran a series of articles exploring gay men, drugs and the chemsex scene.
Steve Morris, lead for Chemsex Related Sexual Crime with the UK’s Prison & Probation Service, wrote at the time about how drugs were turning gay men into both the victims and perpetrators of crime.
Besides gay men being sexually assaulted and raped, he was also seeing other crimes: ‘Indecent exposure, blackmail, domestic violence and a whole range of violent offences. Occasionally we also see the downloading images of child abuse as part of chemsex cases too.
‘In the coming months, you will hear case after case of chemsex-related sexual crime. You are bound to: it is happening and the indications are that it is increasing.
‘At some point, it is likely that you will know someone who has endured a victim experience and you may well hear of someone you know who has been arrested, investigated or convicted of committing a sexual crime.’
H/T: Daily Mail