Former Northants private school teacher who downloaded hundreds of indecent images of boys escapes jail

James Stuttard has been spared jail for downloading hundreds of indecent images of children.
James Stuttard has been spared jail for downloading hundreds of indecent images of children.

A disgraced former Northamptonshire teacher who hit the headlines for launching what was labelled an "anti-fat" Scouts badge has escaped being jailed for downloading indecent images of young boys.

Even though James Stuttard had no previous convictions, he had been remanded in custody because he was considered to be "a flight risk" after applying for a job abroad.

Stuttard (32) of Meadow Furlong, Rugby, a teacher at Spratton Hall private school near Northampton until his arrest in January, pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to three charges of making indecent images of children.

He was sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for 18 months, with 30 days of rehabilitation activity, and ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work.

The one-time scout leader in Rugby, who gained national newspaper coverage after introducing the "fitness activity badge" for Beaver Scouts, was ordered to register as a sex offender for ten years.

Judge Richard Griffith-Jones also made him subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for seven years, under which, among other restrictions, he is banned from doing any paid or voluntary work that brings him into contact with children.

Prosecutor Jason Pegg said that Stuttard "is a teacher and also takes part in voluntary work as a scout leader", and was of previous good character.

“But the authorities became suspicious about his computer usage, and went to his home in Meadow Furlong.

When officers told him why they were there, Stuttard immediately volunteered that there was a computer on the top floor of the house, and a laptop by his bed – and that both of them would have images of children on them.

He was arrested and cautioned, but answered ‘no comment’ to questions when he was interviewed, although he did provide the police with the necessary passwords to access the computers.

Hi-tech officers examined Stuttard’s two Apple laptops, a tablet, and SD card and a memory stick, all of which had images on them, "predominantly of boys aged 10 to 12," said Mr Pegg.

There were ten category A images, with a further 108 similar inaccessible images which had been deleted but remained on the hard drive.

In addition there were 50 inaccessible category B images, and 139 images and 549 inaccessible images in category C, added Mr Pegg.

Jonathan Coode, defending, pointed out that Stuttard had been remanded in custody since his arrest on January 5, which he said was the equivalent of a sentence of six and a half months.

Of the reason for his remand in custody, despite being of previous good character, Mr Coode explained: “My understanding was that because he had applied for a job overseas, he was believed to be a flight risk.”

Judge Griffith-Jones said he had read testimonials which had been handed in, and commented: “It is a tragedy, because he would have been a very good teacher.”

Mr Coode said Stuttard came from a respectable family, but "did not have the best start in life" because he suffered from profound dyslexia, but managed to battle his way through school and then through university.

“He got to the heights of being a head of department at an extremely respectable preparatory school.”

But he became "burdened by the enormous responsibility and stress" of his role at the school, Spratton Hall School and it got to him.

And in 2014 a close friend of his had committed suicide, and he became fixated with that and began having similar thoughts himself, said Mr Coode.

It was at that time that, dis-inhibited through drink, he began looking at the images, becoming disgusted with himself afterwards and erasing them.

And the judge observed: “He does admit to some sexual attraction for that age and that gender.”

Mr Coode added that Stuttard had found HMP Hewell "an extremely unpleasant environment", and Judge Griffith-Jones said: “He will not be going back there.”

He explained that the sentencing guideline for the offence was a 12-month sentence, which would be reduced to eight month because of his guilty plea – and he had already served the equivalent of six-and-a-half months.

Sentencing Stuttard, Judge Griffith-Jones told him: “You are still a young man, you are an intelligent man, and you can’t help the way you feel and the way you are made. But you can help the way you behave.

“As a consequence of what you have done, you have ruined an obvious career choice for yourself. You have got talents, and you will have to apply them to other purposes.

“The fact that you have been in custody for some time now enables me to take a course which doesn’t involve you serving any more.”

An NSPCC spokeswoman said: “By downloading these images, Stuttard has helped to fuel a sickening online market in child sexual abuse.

“Every image is a crime scene and behind each is a vulnerable victim who will need support to recover.

“To help tackle the problem of online child abuse imagery, the NSPCC is calling for the introduction of a specialist digital child abuse unit in every police force.”

Anyone with concerns about a child can contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000, help@nspcc.org.uk or by texting 88858. Children can contact Childline in confidence and at any time on 0800 1111 or via www.childline.org.uk.