Ex-teacher sentenced for child pornography offences

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The Independent Online

A former schoolteacher who used his work laptop to view child pornography was given a three-year community order today.

The material was found on a computer loaned to Jonathan Collings when he handed it back on retiring from his job as a technology teacher at a Catholic secondary school.



The 60-year-old from Dunstable, Bedfordshire, had mistakenly failed to wipe all the images before he left Nicholas Breakspear Catholic School in St Albans, Hertfordshire, last August.



Police officers raided his home and discovered a collection of about 70,000 indecent images, St Albans Crown Court heard.



Prosecutor Sally Mealing-Mcleod told the court they were largely still images, mainly of girls, but some movies were found as well.



Images of bestiality were also among the material seized.



The pensioner pleaded guilty last month to multiple counts of making indecent images of a child.



The judge told Collings that parents would never have entrusted their children to him had they known what was going on.



Ms Mealing-Mcleod said: "In his first police interview, the defendant said it had become like a habit which he couldn't give up. The images made him feel nice but nothing more than that.



"In his second interview, he said he had collected images over 10 years and thought he had wiped the laptop he had given back to the school.



"He said it was a stupid thing to have done."



The court heard Collings stopped feeling "involved with the world" after his relationship with his wife broke down.



Barrister Sarah Lewis, defending Collings, said her client could not explain why he had offended.



She said: "It's clear he had dealt with some issues in the past - divorce, bereavement of his wife who died of cancer, severe depression.



"Having felt cut off from the world he lost his moral compass."



Judge John Plumstead said Collings must have realised he was exposing himself to a risk of detection and added it was a "saving grace" that there was no evidence he had distributed any of the material.



Passing sentence, he told Collings: "You have disgraced yourself by your shameful behaviour.



"It was discovered because you had been using a laptop you had for legitimate reasons for your unpleasant and illicit viewing of pornography - child pornography in particular.



"Each of those images represents an abuse of trust to a child."



He added: "If you collect these things you provide in part a market for them."



The court heard Collings was previously of good character and that there was no evidence he had abused any children or that any children in his care had been victims.



He was told he would receive supervision by the probation service and would undergo an internet sex offenders' programme.



He was also given a sexual offences prevention order that banned him from having unsupervised contact with any child under 16 and was ordered to pay £400 towards the costs of the prosecution.



Judge Plumstead told him: "You must go away and reflect on the fact that a whole set of parents have entrusted their children to you.



"They would never have done so if they knew what was going on in your head."