Retired St Albans teacher sentenced for possessing paedophilia images
A RETIRED teacher at a St Albans school has been handed a community order after being caught with child abuse images on his laptop.
Paedophille Jonathan Collings handed in his laptop when he retired from teaching technology at Nicholas Breakspear Catholic school last year thinking he had deleted its contents, but staff found the vile material while preparing the computer for use.
Head teacher Phil Jakszta alerted the police and Collings, 60, Dunstable, was arrested.
Prosecuting, Sally Mealing-McLeod said that during a search of his home on September 1 last year officers found folders containing child abuse images and stories, as well as USB drives, a PC, hard drives and discs containing more than 70,000 more indecent photos.
She said that Collings had formed a habit of collecting the images and was proud of his “workmanship” in creating files of stories and thousands of pictures of child abuse.
Many photos were at level one, the least serious of child abuse images, but there was a “significant quantity” at level three, four and five.
Mrs Mealing-McLeod said: “When interviewed, he said it had become like a habit which he could not give up. The images made him feel ‘nice’ but nothing more than that.”
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She added: “He said he had collected images over a period of 10 years. He thought he had wiped the laptop that he have given back to the school and said it was a stupid thing to have done.”
Defending, Sarah Lewis said her client had been grieving for his late wife and had “lost his moral compass”, but now felt a great deal of remorse for his actions.
Collings admitted 16 charges relating to the possession of the child abuse images and two indecent videos at a previous hearing.
Sentencing, Judge John Plumstead banned him from working with children or being in the presence of a child under 16 without supervision and imposed a three year community order with a requirement that he take part in an internet sex offenders’ programme.
He was also ordered to pay �400 in costs and was banned from using a computer without special police software or from using any means to cover up his internet search history.
He told Collings that he had “disgraced himself” and that it was people like him that provided a market for perverse images involving the abuse of children, but he made it clear that there was no evidence that Collings had ever sexually abused a child himself.
He said: “You must go away and reflect on the fact that a whole set of a generation of parents have trusted you with their children. They would never have done that if they had known what was going on in your head.”