School caretaker's child porn shame

THE “HONEST, sensible and reasonable” public face of a primary school caretaker masked a sinister private life as part of a massive Internet community trading in child pornography, a court heard.

THE “HONEST, sensible and reasonable” public face of a primary school caretaker masked a sinister private life as part of a massive Internet community trading in child pornography, a court heard.

Darren Cronin, 20, of Newmarket, was yesterday given two years in a young offenders institute for possessing and distributing a stash of obscene images including children, some as young as eight-years-old, being forced to sexually assault each other and being abused by adults.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to one charge of distributing child pornography and 16 of possessing it, and asked for a further 106 similar offences to be taken into account.

Cambridge Crown Court heard how Cronin, who has now been sacked from his job at Newmarket's Ditton Lodge First School, where one of his sick pictures was first discovered, had been collecting and sharing child pornography for two years before he was caught.


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Judge Jonathan Haworth, sentencing Cronin, refused to accept the defendant's claim that he took no pleasure from the pictures and felt nothing when looking at them.

He told Cronin: “Your public face was one where people found you honest, sensible, reasonable and good company, but what was disclosed here is the private side you kept very much to yourself.

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“When you were asked about your reaction to these images you professed to have no reaction. That I simply do not accept.

“The reaction must be either one of gratification or disgust and if you do say you have no reaction, this appears to bear out what a probation officer has indicated - that you are simply not facing up to the impact of what you have done.”

Judge Haworth said the impact of distributing such material was the continued abuse of children, who were victims of whom Cronin did not seem to have taken any account, storing their images in files accessible to anyone on the Internet, labelled with titles such as “pre-teen sex” to attract other child pornographers.

He sentenced Cronin to nine months in a young offenders institute for each of the possession charges, to run concurrently, and two years for distributing them.

Judge Haworth also told Cronin he would probably be released after 12 months, but would be under extended supervision for three years and would have to register with police as a sex offender upon his release.

Furthermore, his personal computer and laptop were confiscated and he was banned from working with children indefinitely.

Cronin was employed at Ditton Lodge on September 2, 2004 and was suspended from the school on October 4, when police were called after a “disturbing” image was found on a school printer.

Police searched his home and he was arrested and admitted in interview to downloading child porn, claiming he had first used only adult porn and had drifted into viewing images of children through curiosity.

He said he had “turned a blind eye” to the illegality of it in order to increase his rating on a website.

Speaking after the case, a spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council, which previously employed Soham murderer Ian Huntley as a caretaker, just eight miles from Ditton Lodge, said there was nothing in Cronin's character history to suggest his subsequent behaviour.

He said: “We are pleased with the sentence handed down to Darren Cronin at Cambridge Crown Court today.

“It sends out a clear signal that downloading indecent pictures of children from the Internet is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.”

The spokesman also said none of the images involved children from the school, while Cronin had no previous convictions and his references all checked out.

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