A former Catholic priest has pleaded guilty to making and possessing indecent images of children following a National Crime Agency investigation.
Thomas Wood, aged 55, from Southport, admitted accessing a video conferencing platform where videos of child abuse were being shown when he appeared at Liverpool Crown Court.
The NCA arrested Wood at Our Lady’s RC Presbytery in Lydiate, Merseyside, in March last year, following which he was subjected to police bail. He was removed from his post, and in January the NCA charged him.
Forensic analysis of Wood’s devices uncovered chat logs from the video conferencing platform in which Wood made sexualised references to children.
The agency’s officers worked closely with the local authority and the Roman Catholic Church to address safeguarding concerns in the local community.
Wood was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court following his pleas, and made subject to a seven-year sexual harm prevention order and a three-year community service order.
Graham Ellis, NCA operations manager, said: “This operation identified a child sex offender working in a position of trust and Thomas Wood has now been removed from that post.
“Offenders with a sexual interest in children sometimes believe online anonymity will keep them safe from law enforcement. They’re wrong.
“National Crime Agency officers are dedicated, highly trained and equipped with advanced technical capabilities.
“Offenders who view these images know the children in them are being abused. We will find those offenders and bring them to justice.”