February 2019

Lecturer at Hatfield’s University of Hertfordshire jailed for paedophilia offences

A lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield has been jailed for paedophilia offences.

John Probert, of no fixed address, was handed 30 months in prison at St Albans Crown Court on Friday for numerous offences including fraud, possessing indecent images of children, and breaching a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO).

The 50-year-old had first been cautioned in 2012 because he had 79 indecent child images.

In 2016 he was given a community order for having paedophilic pictures ranked category B and C.

Probert had been employed as a tax lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire since 2014, but after 2016 he committed fraud by keeping his conviction a secret.

The fraudulent paychecks totalled £8,730.99.

He also failed to tell police when he wiped his computer’s internet history and got new bank cards, both of which should have been disclosed.

When officers searched Probert’s house last year, they unearthed a mobile phone which had been wrapped in a freezer bag and buried in the back garden only inches beneath the gravel.

It contained nearly 800 pieces of paedophilic content from June 2017 to September 2018.

There were 42 category A, 55 category B, and 701 category C pictures, along with category A videos.

There was also 127 prohibited images of children and 11 films depicting extreme pornography, including showing sexual acts performed on live animals.

It was found later that Probert had used unmonitored computers at the university to search for terms such as “pre-teen”, “virgin boy” and “child model”.

He had also used the fake name John Cainer to distribute a category C image on Facebook messenger.

Prosecuting Sarah O’Kane said: “Clearly this is someone who has seen to conceal his activities from the authorities, which were put in place to protect the public.”

Probert pleaded guilty to 16 offences and was given a number of concurrent and consecutive sentences, totalling 30 months in prison.

Judge Nigel Lithman QC said: “With this case, there is a combination of persistence in offending and blatancy in offending, in that it is well thought out – that can be seen by all through the chronology of this matter.”