Teacher jailed over child porn seizure

A MATHS teacher was starting a jail term last night after he admitted possessing more than 52,000 pornographic images of children – some featuring dead youngsters.

By Jonathan Barnes

A MATHS teacher was starting a jail term last night after he admitted possessing more than 52,000 pornographic images of children – some featuring dead youngsters.

Richard Sugden, 53, who worked as a teacher for 18 years, most recently at Suffolk College, was jailed for 14 months.

The images found included photographs and short films ranging from erotic posing to sadism and bestiality and some featured dead children, including a child lying in a coffin.


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Father-of-four Sugden left his job as a teacher at Suffolk College earlier this year when police began investigating him.

He admitted 15 specimen charges of downloading child pornography from the internet between February 2001 and September 2002.

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Peter Gair, prosecuting, said officers raided the teacher's home in Nottidge Road, Ipswich, on January 7 this year, seizing his computer and a case containing compact discs.

They found just over 52,000 pornographic images from internet sites, including 28 that showed scenes of sadism or bestiality involving children and 59 with images of sex between children and adults, Ipswich Crown Court heard yesterday.

Adam Budworth, mitigating, read the court a statement from Sugden explaining his reasons for using child pornography.

Sugden said he had devoted 18 years to teaching children between the ages of 11 and 18, and had spent the last 12 years in further education.

"I helped support hundreds of children to achieve their potential and I am very proud of my record," the statement said.

But Sugden said he had fallen upon bad times after losing contact with his two young children after a divorce in 1981 and was parted from another two children after a further divorce in 1991.

He said that due to the stress and pressures of work he had "little time and space to realise how badly my mental health had deteriorated".

Sugden added: "I turned to pornography as a distraction – to relieve the stress I experienced at work. I always thought of it as a temporary phenomenon."

He said he had never harmed a child, contacted children through an internet chatroom, photographed a child or "hung around in playgrounds".

Mr Budworth said Sugden realised he should not have collected the images but had originally thought what he was doing was legal.

The teacher used software to try and delete some of the images but found he was unable to do so, he added.

"I had reached rock bottom, my judgement was impaired and I fell into bad habits which I deeply regret. I was looking at pornography to relieve my pain," Sudgen said in the statement.

"I am grateful to the police and to the court for providing me with the necessary wake-up call."

The court heard Sugden had now met a new partner, a public relations company boss, who offered him "unconditional support" and was helping him recover.

The former teacher had also managed to strike up a relationship with his son, who is now 17.

"I am ashamed and embarrassed but have not lost my self respect and still think of myself as a good person," Sugden added.

Sentencing Sugden, Judge John Devaux said his crimes were not "victimless" and they encouraged the ongoing abuse of children. He ordered the defendant to pay £1,100 in costs.

Following the case, Suffolk College assistant principal Peter Funnell said Sugden was suspended at the start of the police investigation and left the college earlier this year.

He added the college had co-operated with the police inquiry and that no college equipment had been used in connection with the offences.

Suffolk Constabulary refused to comment on the case specifically but did release a statement. "Suffolk police can confirm that they are, and have been for some time, actively investigating the information provided by NCIS in relation to Operation Ore.

"A great deal of progress has been made with our investigations. Those alleged offenders who have been identified as high risk have been arrested, charged and indeed a number have now been prosecuted. However the operation is still ongoing.

"A dedicated team of 20 officers, supported by specialist officers such as search teams, are working on this investigation.

"Suffolk Constabulary's key aims when dealing with this matter is the protection of children and prosecution of offenders."

A spokesman for ChildLine, which is part of the Children's Charities' Coalition for Internet Safety, said last night : "It is vital to send out the message that every single pornographic image of a child is an image of child abuse.

"Users of this material create a market for it, which leads to even more children being violently abused.

"ChildLine is working closely with other children's charities, the government and internet channels to tighten the net on anyone involved in the creation or distribution of images of child pornography."

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