January 2005

‘Skilful’ child sex abuser jailed

A respected councillor, school governor and teacher has been jailed for three years for child sex offences.

Peter Nicholls, 43, of Shefford, Beds, had thousands of images of children, some as young as three, being sexually abused, Luton Crown Court was told.

The court heard police also found pictures of Nicholls engaged in sexual acts with between 13 and 16 boys.

Judge Daniel Rodwell QC said Nicholls had “engaged in a skilful and manipulative grooming process”.

Police said they found 40,000 indecent images of children. Nicholls said the figure was 10,000.

He was first investigated when officers were investigating internet child pornography in Operation Ore.

Nicholas Barraclough, prosecuting, said Nicholls made full admissions about his sexual behaviour with three boys and gave police their names.

The court was told that when interviewed, the boys said Nicholls had not put any pressure on them to do anything sexually that they did not want to do.

Two said they still regarded him as a very good friend and they would not have complained to police had the pictures not been found.

Nicholls, of Richard Daniels House, High Street, who ran his own computer business, pleaded guilty to 16 charges of indecent assault and 30 specimen charges of possessing indecent images of children.

Laura Blackband, defending, said Nicholls still had a huge support network.

“The overriding feeling from everyone, including himself, is that he is someone who needs help,” she said.

Jailing him Judge Rodwell said: “You have done a great deal of good in your community and received a great deal of support in your hour of need.

“But the other side to your character at this time was very different and somewhat sinful.”

He said he believed there was a serious risk that Nicholls would re-offend.