|John Bryan Thomas|
A primary school deputy head-teacher who became addicted to pornography when he retired was caught downloading hundreds of indecent images and videos of children.
John Bryan Thomas, 61 - who described himself as something of a “Jekyll and Hyde” character - had been told the offences were serious and that he could not complain if he went to prison immediately.
But he was spared jail yesterday when a crown court judge he would be “a prime candidate” for a sex offender group work programme to challenge his behaviour.
Judge Philip Hughes placed Thomas on a three -year community order so that he could attend the programme.
The judge 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 fact that there was a suggestion that he 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,” the judge said.
“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 there were also some sadomasochistic images on Thomas’s computers.
Thomas, of Peel Street, Wrexham, had earlier admitted 11 charges of downloading indecent images and one charge of possessing indecent images and films between January last year and January this year.
Mold Crown Court was told 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, told the court how officers acting on information received went to Thomas’s home address in January and he said that he had some imaged but he had deleted them.
Thomas produced a laptop and said that he had been retired for a year and had been looking at images during that time, at night. But officers found a further laptop hidden under his mattress.
The hi-tech crime unit found 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.
Thomas told police 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 become addicted to searching for indecent images, and had become a “Jekyll and Hyde” character.
The defendant had not been charged with distribution but he had accepted in his pre-sentence report about sharing images peer to peer.
Mark Connor, defending, said during the 11 months since Thomas’s arrest he had referred himself for therapy sessions.
He was said to be extremely ashamed of what he had done.
Not all his friends had stood by him but some of them had and they had been “very supportive”. He said 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.
He added Thomas was different to other offenders in that he had demonstrated a willingness to change.