'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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future