April 2018

School lab technician caught with ‘repellent’ child abuse images

A school laboratory technician was arrested at work after sharing ’repellent’ images of child abuse on a chat site.

Daniel Stapleton used search terms including ’boy orgy’ and ’pre-teen goddess’ on the international website Chatstep but his activity was monitored by police and traced to his IP and e-mail addresses.

He was arrested at a secondary school in Newton Abbot where he was employed as a technician. He was suspended immediately and later dismissed.

He had downloaded the 35 images at home rather than at school and told police he had used the chat site after drinking. One showed a child of three or four being raped.

Stapleton, aged 44, of Sherwell Lane, Torquay, admitted three counts of making and two of distributing indecent images and was jailed for a year, suspended for 18 months by Judge David Evans at Exeter Crown Court.

He was ordered to do undertake a sex offenders’ treatment programme as part of 40 hours rehabilitation activities and was made subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order which enables the police to monitor his use of the internet.

The judge told him: ‘You have admitted having a fantasy sexual interest in children and admitted viewing images of boys and girls as young as five.

‘It goes without saying that the images are repellent and their production causes appalling harm to very young defenceless children.’

Mr Gordon Richings, prosecuting, said police traced Stapleton after receiving information about his use of Chatstep, which is a platform offering different types of chat room and is known to be used to exchange images and discussion of child abuse.

He said there were a total of 35 images of which eight were in the worst category, showing serious abuse of children.

He said: ‘It was established the defendant was working at a secondary school as a laboratory technician and he was arrested at work on May 25, 2017.

‘He told the officers: “Unfortunately, I have been very stupid when I have been drunk. I have looked at things on the internet I shouldn’t have”.’

Stapleton also admitted sharing around 20 of the downloaded images on the chat site, leading to the further charge of distribution. Search terms included ’boy orgy’ and ’pre-teen goddess’.

He said his interest in children was purely fantasy and would never touch them at the school where he worked. He said: ‘The real thing does not interest me.’