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Ex-teacher avoids prison over indecent child images
8:00am Saturday 23rd June 2012 in News
A FORMER teacher has narrowly avoided jail after dozens of indecent images of children were discovered on his computer for the second time in ten years.
Alexander Thirkell, who at one time taught at Spennymoor Comprehensive School, in County Durham, appeared at St Albans Crown Court, in Hertfordshire, on Thursday, after pleading guilty to eight counts of possessing indecent images and one of having extreme pornography involving an octopus.
Thirkell, 40, was arrested after police raided his home in Hadham Road, Bishop’s Stortford, on April 21, last year.
The court heard how the hard drive on his computer was examined and 76 indecent images of children were found.
The vast majority were at level one, the lowest level of five levels of seriousness, but 14 were at level three and 14 at level four.
Most of the images were of girls aged about 14, said Isabel Delamere, for the Crown Prosecution Service.
Thirkhell told a probation officer he had looked at the images because he was bored.
On March 1, 2004, Thirkell, who then lived in Hurworth Road, Hurworth, near Darlington, pleaded guilty to 12 charges of making indecent photographs of children relating to offences on September 8, 2002, when officers discovered 2,480 illegal images.
He received a two-year community rehabilitation order.
Thirkell now lives with his wife and young son in Halifax, where he earns £54,000 a year as a sales manager.
Thomas Nicholson-Pratt, defending, said the small number of images related to one date.
He said: “There has been a substantial gap in offending since 2002.
“These images all relate to one date over a 25-minute period.
This was the only lapse.”
Judge Andrew Bright passed a three-year community order with 36 months’ supervision.
Thirkell will be assessed by West Yorkshire Probation Officers and attend a sex offender treatment programme.
The judge told him: “These were serious offences and you have only escaped prison by a whisker. Without people like you there would not be any of these images.
“If you let the probation service down you will be locked up. You won’t be given another chance.”
Thirkell will be on the sex offenders’ register for five years. He must pay £1,200 costs.