'Sick and depraved' primary school teacher jailed over indecent images he filmed and shared

'The level of betrayal, falseness and dishonesty he has displayed over a number of years is rarely seen'

A "sick and depraved" primary school teacher has been jailed after he filmed students as they changed for swimming and shared the images on the internet in "a level of betrayal rarely seen", police said today.

Simon Mark Knowles, 52, formerly of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, but now living in Bridlington, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years' imprisonment after pleading guilty to 24 charges at York Crown Court.

They included making indecent images of children as young as three, possessing indecent images of children, distributing indecent images of children and recording a person doing a private act.

North Yorkshire Police said some of the children he filmed were students at the North Yorkshire school where he taught.

Officers investigating the case found 19,541 indecent photographs of children on Knowles' computer along with 174 indecent videos, the force said.

They also found evidence that he had distributed 147 indecent photographs of children. The offences took place from 2009 up until his arrest in April 2012.

Following Knowles' sentencing, Detective Sergeant Mark Jackson, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "On the face of it, Simon Knowles was a well-liked teacher who had the respect of his colleagues and aspired to be an assistant head teacher.

"In reality, he was a calculating and deceitful man who completely abused his position of trust for his own sexual gratification.

"The level of betrayal, falseness and dishonesty he has displayed over a number of years is rarely seen.

"He filmed innocent children while they were getting changed, using covert methods which highlights the lengths he was prepared to go to indulge his twisted fantasies.

"The fact that he was also sharing images on the internet, some of them at the highest level of seriousness, shows that Knowles is a sick and depraved man who I am extremely glad that we have caught.

"He betrayed his family, his colleagues, his profession and, ultimately, the children he was entrusted to educate and their parents.

"He has shown no remorse for his actions throughout the investigation which was a long and difficult process for the officers involved, everyone connected with the school and, of course, his victims.

"Simon Knowles is an intelligent man which makes his conduct all the more abhorrent and quite frankly prison is the best place for him."

After the hearing, North Yorkshire County Council said in a statement: "The school and the local authority have fully co-operated with the police throughout the investigation, and the school has supported parents throughout this terrible ordeal.

"Child protection remains the highest priority for the county and all proper child protection procedures and safeguards are followed by the local authority when employing staff to work with children."

Knowles will have to register as a sex offender and will be banned from working with children.

PA

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn