Teacher faces jail over child porn shame

A FORMER maths teacher is facing jail after superimposing the heads of his pupils onto obscene photographs downloaded from the internet in what has been labelled “an appalling betrayal of trust.

A FORMER maths teacher is facing jail after superimposing the heads of his pupils onto obscene photographs downloaded from the internet in what has been labelled “an appalling betrayal of trust.”

Michael Higgins, who pleaded guilty to a string of child porn offences at Ipswich Magistrates Court yesterday, admitted to having an “established fixation” with young girls at the Rosemary Musker High School in Thetford.

The case has prompted calls for greater security checks on candidates applying for jobs involving children, with leading charities saying: “There is always a risk that sexual abusers will slip through the net.”

During yesterday's hearing, Higgins, of The Street, Wattisfield, near Diss, pleaded guilty to eight charges of making indecent images of children under the age of 18 between September 2002 and September 2004.


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The 55-year-old also admitted eight charges of creating pseudo-images of children under the age of 18 between December 2003 and January 2005 and one of distributing pseudo-images of a child under the age of 16 between December 2004 and January 2005.

The court heard Higgins, who lived in Suffolk at the time of the offences, was the school's unofficial photographer for events such as sports days and drama productions.

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He was arrested in February when police visited his home and discovered 11,122 untampered indecent photographs and 4,752 pseudo-images on his personal computer and floppy discs.

Margaret Cutts, prosecuting, said that Higgins would take photographs of girls at the school and then use his computer to cut-and-paste their heads onto explicit images of adults.

“He had superimposed the heads of the pupils onto obscene photographs that he had downloaded from various websites, thereby giving the appearance that children from the school were performing explicit acts with adults,” she added.

“In some cases where this happened he superimposed his own head on an adult body making it look like he was doing it.”

In an interview with police, Higgins admitted taking a picture of himself as he performed a sexual act over a photograph of a young girl then sending it to someone he had met over the internet.

Ms Cutts also said the 55-year-old agreed he had an “established fixation with young girls” and that he would sometimes look out of a window at children and act out his “sexual fantasies” with the youngsters unaware.

Higgins was remanded in custody and the case against him transferred to Ipswich Crown Court for sentencing.

Speaking after the case, one parent said: “I am angry, shocked and disgusted he was putting her picture on those bodies.

“I feel like her innocence has been taken away. It feels like she has been indecently assaulted. She feels sick about the whole thing.”

Geoff Gildersleeve, assistant director of children's services with Norfolk County Council, said Higgins had passed all necessary security checks before beginning work at the school.

“This was an appalling betrayal of the trust of children, parents and staff colleagues,” he said. “Full checks were carried out before Michael Higgins was employed and no convictions or concerns showed up on his record. He was dismissed soon after the allegations first came to light in February.

“Our concern now is for the whole school community. We have specialist teams in place who are offering support to children, parents and staff of the school and are doing all we can to help in what is clearly a very difficult and distressing time.”

Mary Marsh, director and chief executive of the NSPCC, said: “Whilst we welcome the steps to make recruitment in schools safer, this is only a start. Resources are needed so that children are protected at every moment, in every setting - not just in schools.

“However, no matter what safeguards are in place, there is always a risk that sexual abusers will slip through the net, which is why a culture of vigilance is so important.”

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