A FORMER Wigan teacher downloaded almost 200 indecent images of children, a court heard.
Darren McKenna admitted his behaviour and a judge told him that he had escaped imprisonment by “the skin of his teeth.”
Liverpool Crown Court heard 48-year-old McKenna, who worked at the Launchpad Pupil Referral Unit in College Street, St Helens, had started looking at pornographic images five or six years ago.
After police raided his Billinge home they seized two laptops and when analysed they were found to contain a total of 192 indecent images of children, including a video, in all three categories of seriousness.
Simon Duncan, prosecuting, said that McKenna, a former school governor, had used encryption software to hide some of the images. He was in contact with “like-minded people” via internet chat and admitted he used software to prevent family members accessing the images.
“Police discovered search terms indicative of an active interest in searching out indecent images of children. He said that he enjoyed the feeling of breaking the rules,” he said.
Mr Duncan added that when quizzed, McKenna claimed not to get any sexual gratification from looking at the images.
McKenna, who has no previous convictions, of Avon Road, Billinge, pleaded guilty to three charges of downloading indecent images of children and one of possessing them.
Carmel Wilde, defending, said that McKenna, who was a Key Stage 4 manager at the referral unit for children and young adults with behavioural problems, had been stressed.
“This behaviour is wholly out of character for a man of previous good character who has previously been a school governor.”
She read an excerpt from a statement by McKenna, which said: “I’d just like to apologise for my actions and all the people it has affected and for the consequences to my family.”
Ms Wilde said that McKenna, who left his job after his arrest, “saw his behaviour as a sort of twisted punishment for his marital difficulties. He was seeking solace and his behaviour got out of control, and he suffered a nervous breakdown.”
Judge Norman Wright sentenced McKenna to six months imprisonment suspended for two years.
He pointed out that the crimes were not “victimless” and added, “Your viewing these images keeps the market going. You played your part by downloading them in this evil market which has caused children to be abused when these photographs are taken.”
McKenna was also placed under supervision for two years and has to attend the Northumbria sex offenders rehabilitation programme. The judge imposed a seven year Sexual Offences Prevention Order restricting his internet access.