December 2017

Disgraced teacher locked up for five years

A disgraced teacher was locked up for five years after recording hours of footage of young children.

John Irish was at university when he began his sordid descent into collecting child abuse images, downloading almost 18,000 sick pictures and videos over several years.

But the twisted 25-year-old – who later became a teaching assistant and then a teacher at a Teesside school – moved on to making his own videos of children.

He used covertly placed cameras and an app on his phone to mask the fact he was recording.

Depraved Irish filmed children at different locations, including in changing rooms at a swimming pool, Teesside Crown Court court heard.

Police began an investigation in June and seized computers and mobile phones.

When Irish was arrested, he told officers: “I’m glad I’ve been caught.”

The probe led detectives to identify that some of the videos found had been made by Irish himself.

The court heard the children in those videos did not engage in sexual behaviour, and the footage had not been shared online.

A court order previously banned the media from publishing his address at a previous hearing, after a request from Cleveland Police.

Statements from the families of victims, read by prosecutor Harry Hadfield, described the impact Irish’s behaviour as “an overwhelming blow that was difficult to comprehend” while a senior figure at the school which had employed him said the entire situation had been “soul destroying”.

While studying for a computing degree he began to visit a Russian website and read stories of child abuse, before moving on to obtaining peer to peer software to download upsetting images and videos for the next nine years.

Irish, emotionless as he was flanked by police officers in the dock and watched by a packed public gallery, was described as “devious” by Judge Ashurst.

He told him: “A pre-sentence report suggested a suspended sentence could be imposed, with a sex offender treatment programme in the community.

“I could not possibly do that, it would be rightly seen by those viewing the case as unduly lenient.”

He jailed Irish for three years for producing the videos, and added on two years for the downloading pictures and videos between September 2008 and June 2017 – including more than 2,000 in the most serious category.

Irish had pleaded guilty to four counts of making indecent images, one of possessing a prohibited of a child and one of possessing extreme pornographic images.