October 2016

IT teacher given community order over indecent images on his computer

AN IT teacher at a Monmouthshire secondary school has received a three year community order after indecent images were found on his personal computer.

Matthew Harris, of Crumlin Road, Pontypool, worked at Caldicot Comprehensive School prior to his arrest in August. He was subsequently suspended.

The 35-year-old appeared at Newport Crown Court on Friday, having previously pleaded guilty to possessing indecent images.

The court heard that the material found on his Acer computer stack contained 551 indecent images, including photographs and videos.

Of the items discovered, 55 fell into category A – the most serious classing for indecent images, with some including children and animals.

Eight items recovered were classified as category B, 416 fell into category C, and 18 images consisted of drawings and cartoons.

Prosecuting, Nigel Fryer said that Harris’ testimonies during interview were widely rejected as a result of his line of employment.

“He was employed as an IT teacher at Caldicot Comprehensive School, so it would seem unlikely that he would have no knowledge of where things would go once downloaded,” Mr Fryer told the court.

“He told them he downloaded the images in a moment of madness, a difficult moment in his life following the passing away of his grandad.”

The court heard how the defendant confirmed that he had not shared or passed on the images onto other people, and they had remained only on his computer.

Defending, Heath Edwards said Harris had fully admitted his guilt, but was struggling to accept the reputation associated to indecent images.

“He has no plans to withdraw his guilty pleas – he accepts those,” said Mr Edwards.

“However, he wants people to know that he is no danger to any young child. But he understands that what he has done is wrong.”

Concluding, Recorder Rouch told Harris that despite the gravity and explicit content of the material, he would not be receiving a custodial sentence.

“You downloaded these images for your own satisfaction and gratification. What you need to understand that the abuse of children will continue with this material,” he said.

“There are five reasons why you will not receive a custodial sentence, including your guilty pleas, no previous convictions and the fact that you did not share or distribute the images.”

Mr Harris was ordered to pay costs of £425, and a victim surcharge of £85.

He received a three year community order, in the form of a programme designed to provide treatment for registered sexual offenders.

He will be subject to the sexual harm prevention order and listed on the sexual offenders register for a minimum of five years.