A PRIMARY school deputy headteacher who became addicted to pornography when he retired has been spared jail for downloading hundreds of indecent images and videos of children.
John Bryan Thomas, 61, who described himself as something of a “Jekyll and Hyde” character, was told the offences were serious and he could not complain if he went to prison immediately.
But a Mold Crown Court judge said yesterday he would be “a prime candidate” for a sex offender group work programme to challenge his behaviour.
Judge Philip Hughes placed him on a three year community order so he could attend the programme.
He also ordered him to register with the police as a sex offender for five years and a five year SOPO (sex offender prevention programme) was also imposed.
Judge Hughes said they were serious offences and he could not overlook the suggestion that Thomas had shared images with other people over the internet.
“The mischief of such offences is that they provide a market for people who are abusing children,” he told Thomas.
“By participating and viewing these images you are fuelling that market and in that way contribute to the abuse of children between the age of three and 13.”
The judge said some sadomasochistic images were also found on his computers.
He was a man of good character and glowing testimonials had been written on his behalf.
Thomas, who entered the dock with a packed suit case, had also referred himself for therapy.
Formerly of Llangollen but now living in Peel Street in Wrexham, he had previously admitted a total of 11 charges of downloading indecent images and one charge of possessing indecent images and films between January last year and January this year.
The court heard he was a man of good character, had been a primary school teacher for 20 years and had been employed as a deputy head.
Emmalyne Downing, prosecuting, said officers acting on information went to his home address in January and he said he had some images but he had deleted them.
He produced a laptop and said he had been retired for a year and had been looking at images during that time. But officers found a further laptop hidden under his mattress.
The hi-tec crime unit found in total 3,875 still images and eight movies of an indecent nature, mostly at the least serious level one, but there were also images up to the most serious level five.
Interviewed, he said he had been a teacher for 20 years, worked in the UK and abroad, was deputy head when he retired, and described how he had then become addicted to searching for indecent images.
Mark Connor, defending, said the court had a stark choice of a relatively short custodial sentence when no work would be done with him, or to place him on a challenging three year community order under which he could complete the sex offender programme.
Thomas had not been charged with distribution but he had accepted in his pre-sentence report he had shared images peer to peer.
During the 11 months since his arrest he had referred himself for therapy sessions.
He was extremely ashamed of what he had done and was motivated to build on the support received from friends. He was anxious not to let them or himself down.
“Quite simply the best way of protecting the public and to prevent the defendant from re-offending is to subject him to intensive supervision,” said Mr Connor.
Thomas, he said, had demonstrated a willingness to change.