December 2017

Watford teacher banned from schools for life after downloading indecent images of children

A teacher who downloaded indecent images of children has been banned from the profession for life.

Dennis Edwards was given the lifetime ban after a National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) disciplinary hearing in Coventry on Friday, September 29.

He admitted to using a file-sharing software called Sheraza over a period of three to four years to download sexually explicit images in bulk while working at Stanborough Secondary School, in Watford.

While using this software some ‘pre-teen hardcore’ images, including children aged 7+, were downloaded onto his computer.

Mr Edwards, who had received safeguarding training at the school, admitted to the panel that he opened five to ten of these images as well as that more were kept stored on his computer hardware.

In giving Mr Edwards a lifelong ban, the decision maker on the NCTL panel Alan Meyrick said: “The panel found that the conduct of Mr Edwards fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession.

”In this case, there are three significant factors that in my view mean that a five year review period is not sufficient to achieve the aim of maintaining public confidence in the profession.

“These elements are the continuing use of the software, the number and seriousness of the images found and the lack of insight.

“I consider therefore that there should be no provision for review in this case.”

Mr Edwards was an experienced and senior teacher at Stanborough Secondary School, having been employed there since 2000.

The lifelong ban means that he is prohibited from teaching indefinitely and cannot teach in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England.

The panel categorised the images, which included pre-teens aged 7+, as Category A to C images in accordance with Sentencing Council guidance relating to the categorisation of indecent photographs of children.

A forensic search carried out on his computer found that Mr Edwards’ computer hardware contained 12 Category A images, 12 Category B images and 139 Category C images (32 of which were duplicates).

Some were marked ‘PTHC’ which is said to be an acronym for ‘pre-teen hardcore’. Certain images were inaccessible, for example incomplete downloads or ‘cached’ images.

Mr Edwards also admitted that he continued to use the Sheraza software to download explicit images even after discovering the indecent images of children.

The images were discovered on his computer a police search was carried out at Edwards home on July 1, 2015, with officers seizing his computer equipment and electronic storage devices.

He was charged with possessing an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child but when it came to trial at St Albans Crown Court on August 11, 2016, the CPS offered no evidence and the case was dismissed.