Suspended sentence for former St Albans teacher guilty of child-porn charges

PUBLISHED: 11:52 12 August 2010 | UPDATED: 16:47 13 August 2010

Simon Webb

Simon Webb

Archant

A FORMER St Albans teacher who distributed child pornography over the internet has received a suspended prison sentence.

Simon Webb, 39, who taught science at Townsend School in St Albans several years ago, sent the indecent images and films via his computer of boys being abused in such a way they could dodge ‘firewall’ software designed to block them.

At St Albans Crown Court on Tuesday Webb pleaded guilty to a total of 25 charges of making, distributing and possession of indecent images of children.

He was arrested in July after police executed a search warrant at his home and seized a Packard Bell computer and USB memory stick from the manager of Tesco in Radlett, on which were stored sickening images of young boys being abused.

More than 1,300 images were uncovered, a number depicting level four offences against children on a scale of one to five.

Sophistication

The vast majority were of level one in the abuse scale, but one file, which Webb claimed not to have viewed, was level five, the most serious.

Geoffrey Porter, prosecuting said: “The charges arise from the examination of his computer and what he admitted during the course of the interview.

“He was entirely cooperative with police and made full admissions.

“He said he had owned his computer for five years and had been doing this over two years, therefore these are specimen charges.

“The first three charges refer to distribution and there appeared to be a certain degree of sophistication as they were sent in a Word document.

“That has the effect of potentially being the sort of document that won’t be picked up by firewalls in computers.”

Webb had no previous convictions and sentencing guidelines state a prison sentence of up to three years should be imposed for those convicted of distributing child pornography.

But Ruth Jones, defending, asked the judge not to jail Webb as the distribution crimes did not form the majority of the charges against him.

Judge Stephen Gullick was handed several character references and told Webb would comply with any community order imposed.

Judge Gullick sentenced Webb, who lives in Watford, to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered him to take part in the Thames Valley Sex Offenders Program during three years’ supervision by probation.

He was made subject of a SOPO (Sex Offences Prevention Order) prohibiting contact with anyone under 16 without the presence of their parent or guardian which will run until he is 60.

Webb must also sign the sex offenders’ register for ten years and was warned breaching the orders could lead to prison.

Judge Gullick said: “The most serious, without question is the distribution of indecent images of children.

“But the fact you pleaded guilty and your previous good character means I can suspend the prison sentence.”

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