February 2018: Now living in Cambridge

July 2005

Caretaker’s 185 child abuse pics

A primary school caretaker has been caged after he downloaded child sexual abuse images and posted the sick images on a website.

Darren Cronin, 20, was caught when colleagues at Ditton Lodge First School found a disturbing picture on a printer.

Police raided his home and seized two computers containing a total of 185 indecent images of children some as young as nine.

Some of the pictures depicted sexual intercourse with children.

He also admitted distributing photos on the internet and asked for 106 other offences to be taken into account.

Cambridge Crown Court heard one file found on a computer at Cronins home in Newmarket, Suffolk, was called pre-teen sex.

Prosecutor Sara Walker said Cronin had been downloading the images for two years from a file-sharing website before he was caught.

She said the website has an audience in excess of a million members and one person had accessed Cronins files on 50 occasions.

On Tuesday, at the same court, Cronin was sentenced to two years in a young offenders’ institution.

He also admitted distribution of child sexual abuse images and asked for another three counts of possessing 106 indecent images to be taken into consideration.

Cronin had worked at the school for only a month when he was suspended over the pictures. He had passed a series of security checks.

Ditton Lodge is eight miles from Soham where Ian Huntley, killer of 10-year-old pals Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, was a school caretaker.

July 2005

A PRIMARY school caretaker has admitted a string of child sexual abuse images charges after shocked staff called police when they found a disturbing image on a printer.

Darren Cronin, 20, from Newmarket, pleaded guilty to 16 counts of making indecent photos of children and asked for a further 106 offences to be taken into consideration when he appeared at Cambridge Crown Court yesterday .

Cronin worked at the town’s Ditton Lodge County First School, which has children aged between five and nine years old, and is just eight miles from Soham where school caretaker Ian Huntley murdered 10-year-old schoolgirls Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells in August 2002.

In the aftermath of the brutal killings that shocked the country, rules on vetting school staff were tightened in the hope that sex offenders would be prevented from working with children.

But, despite parallels between the two cases, the county council and the police said there was no reason at the time why Cronin’s appointment at the school should have been prevented as security checks found he had no criminal record.

Det-con Phil Richardson, head of Cambridgeshire Police’s paedophile and internet investigation unit, told the EADT: “Cronin was first brought to our attention when staff at the school found what they deemed to be an indecent photograph on the school printer.

“The school computer and the photographs were checked by employees at Cambridgeshire County Council who found that the images were more inappropriate than indecent.”

But the shocking find at the school prompted police to investigate Cronin’s home when they found a large number of images on his home computers.

DC Richardson said: “In this case, police acted swiftly and an arrest was made within days.

“I think everything was done what could have been done – the right checks were carried out and there were no previous indications that Cronin had any sexual involvement with children.

“After checks were made on his computer, we can say that no children from the school were identified on the pictures and there is no evidence of any abuse at the school.

“The fact that this man worked at a school makes it even more despicable but lessons have been learned in the last few years and things have been tightened up.”

The court heard that Cronin pleaded guilty to making indecent photos of children and also distributing the photos on the internet between July 2003 and October 2004.

Cronin, who was accompanied at court by his mother and father, was ordered to register as a sex offender at his local police station within three days.

He was bailed on condition that he live either with his father in Newmarket or at his mother’s address in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.

Judge Jonathan Haworth adjourned Cronin’s case for pre-sentence and psychiatric reports until August 8.

After the hearing, a Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman said they were “totally confident” that vetting checks had been carried out correctly on Cronin and had come back clear.

He added: “The obvious problem with any checks is that they can only identify someone who has been in trouble with the police before.

“Our checking process has always been thorough but following the Bichard Inquiry [held after the Huntley conviction], we and all authorities have tightened up our procedures even further.

“Formal disciplinary proceedings have now begun in light of these guilty pleas.”