A former primary school teacher who watched rape videos of toddlers as young as two has been spared jail.
Ex deputy head Richard Swinnerton watched child sexual abuse on the dark web for two years before he was arrested on May 15 2020.
Teesside Crown Court heard how the 31-year-old would even watch the horrific videos while his wife and child were upstairs in his Middlesbrough home.
Prosecutor Shaun Dryden said one of the videos lasted for more than 36
minutes and involved a child between the age of six to eight.
Another showed the sexual abuse of a two or three year old.
My Dryden said: ‘His wife and child would be upstairs when he was viewing
‘The purpose of the searches were for his own sexual gratification. He
would view the images for about half an hour.’
Swinnerton – who has resigned from his job at St Clare’s Catholic Primary School in Middlesbrough – told officers he used special software to make himself anonymous on the dark web.
He admitted he had a ‘sexual attraction towards children’ and would watch the abuse on a ‘weekly basis’, according to Teeside Live.
The court heard he made full and frank admissions when he was
arrested and told officers: ‘It’s me, I’ve been looking at indecent images.’
A total of 95 indecent images were found during an in-depth examination of his laptop – the vast majority being in category A, which is the most severe.
Officers found no evidence to suggest that any of the images were made at
the school and there is no allegation of physical abuse.
John Nixon, in mitigation, said his client had never been in trouble before
and had not abused any of the children he had taught during his career as a
primary school teacher.
He urged the judge to pass a suspended sentence after Swinnerton’s
‘fall from grace’.
Judge Deborah Sherwin said that there was ‘no suggestion’ that the defendant ‘crossed the boundaries with pupils’ at the school he taught at.
She sentenced the former teacher to ten months in custody, suspended for two years.
Swinnerton was also ordered to carry out 35 rehabilitation activity
requirement days and attend 27 days at a specialist programme for sex offenders.
He was also given a ten-year sexual harm prevention order.
A St Clare’s school spokesperson said: ‘This has been an upsetting matter for parents, carers, staff and the wider St Clare’s community.
‘We are grateful for the support we have received from them and we continue to assure them that the wellbeing and safety of children of St Clare’s remains our priority at all times.
‘It is also important to reiterate that this former employee’s offences were not in connection with his employment at the school.’
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