'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

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin