April 2018

Ex-primary teacher caught with child abuse images

A Teacher who amassed a large collection of downloaded paedophilic images quit his job before his internet activities came to light, a court heard.

Andrew Charles Collins, who previously worked at a County Durham primary school, also shared indecent moving images in a chat-room conversation.

Durham Crown Court heard that police visited his home, in Seaham, on July 13 last year.

On arrest, he immediately told officers: “It’s on the computer upstairs”, leading to the seizure of a tower and lap-top.

Chris Baker, prosecuting, said analysis of the tower unearthed three moving images classed in the most severe category for indecent child material, 47 still and one moving at the next most serious level, plus 2,487 other offending images, while a further 29,315 were inaccessible.

Further examination revealed file-sharing software, with footage recovered of Collins talking to strangers, in one showing an unknown male two indecent moving images while performing a sex act on himself.

Mr Baker said another 462 images were found on the lap-top.

A sample of the moving images included one in the most serious category, lasting almost two-and-a-half hours, featuring 16 underage girls, some as young as ten, being sexually abused.

Other offending material featured “a high volume” of girls aged from four to 14.

In two subsequent interviews Collins made no reply to police questions, but the 39-year-old defendant, of Linthorpe Avenue, admitted three counts of making indecent photographs/pseudo-photographs and two of distribution, when he appeared at magistrates’ court last month.

Recorder Eric Elliott QC told Collins: “It’s very sad to see someone of your age and history having admitted such charges.

“You, having been a teacher, must appreciate how serious these offences are.”

Passing a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 30 probation-led sessions to address Collins’ offending, Recorder Elliot said it was, “not in the public interest” to impose an immediate jail term.

Collins was made subject of registration, as a sex offender, and restrictions, under a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, both for ten years.