Febuary 2006

Barred: Child sexual abuse images shame teacher

A teacher who downloaded more than 150 images of child sexual abuse will never work in schools again.

Paul Hassall, 43, was spared jail but subjected to a range of orders after pleading guilty to 16 charges of making and one charge of possessing indecent images of children.

For an indefinite period, he must not work in schools, arrange sports trips or have unsupervised contact with children under 16.

Hassall, of Greenleach Lane, Worsley, had 20 years’ experience of teaching maths, history and swimming and had worked in Bolton for more than 15 years.

He taught water polo, arranged school sports trips and was also an avid historian and a church warden.

Manchester Crown Court was told that detectives seized a disc, a computer and a laptop from his home in December 2004. Stuart Denny, prosecuting, said 900 indecent images were found, with 151 of those images of children of varying levels of seriousness.

The images were downloaded between December 2002 and December 2004 while Hassall was working as a teacher. The court was told he carried out internet searches using references to young boys.

Mr Denny told the court: “He said he had not purposefully saved the images but because they were individually numbered folders, the Crown takes issue.”

Hassall was ordered to complete a three-year community rehabilitation order and sign the sex offenders’ register for five years.

The court was told a charge of abusing his position of trust through sexual activity with a child was dropped after the alleged victim said he did not want to go through with a trial.

Hassall was suspended from the school, which cannot be identified for legal reasons, in November 2004.

He resigned in December last year.

Sentencing Hassall, Judge Carter QC said: “You did it for your own personal satisfaction and sexual gratification. To behave in the way you did is totally unacceptable in our society. “You gave no thought to the children, to how they had been used to provide the images.”

The Department for Education and Skills refused to comment on individual cases, but said anyone convicted or charged with downloading internet pornography would be barred from working in schools.