RE teacher from Northamptonshire who had more than 250 images of children engaging in sex acts is spared jail

Phillip Allen has been handed a suspended sentence after police found more than 250 indecent images of children on computer devices.
Phillip Allen has been handed a suspended sentence after police found more than 250 indecent images of children on computer devices.

A religious studies teacher from Northamptonshire had more than 250 indecent images of children, has been spared jail.

Philip Allen, who was fired from his job at Shenley Brook School in Milton Keynes, pleaded guilty to seven charges of possessing the images on October 17. The indictment was later rolled up into four charges.

Phil Allen leaving Northampton Magistrates' Court in October.

Phil Allen leaving Northampton Magistrates' Court in October.

The court also heard that he had taken 14,000 non-indecent images of pupils at his school. These images did not form part of the charge and the Crown Prosecution Service described them as legal images.

Today, the prominent figure in religious education, who has previously written for the Times, was handed a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.

However judge Rupert Mayo was dismayed that probation service cuts meant he could not put the 48-year-old on a rigorous treatment programme.

He said: "You pleaded guilty, you wanted to make a clean breast of this in June.

"I would normally be making you attend an intensive course but the cash-strapped probation service doesn't allow me to do that anymore."

When police executed a warrant on Allen's home in High Street, Pottersbury, on June 9 this year, they seized "numerous" computer equipment.

More than 250 indecent pictures of children were found on the devices, with 173 of those classified in category A - the most serious.

Prosecutor Jonathan Dunne said those included pictures of a "pre-pubescent boy" engaging in sexual activity with an adult and young teenage girls "tied up."

Category B pictures featured infants engaging in oral sex and two more prohibited images showed cartoons of children engaging in sexual activity.

None of the child abuse image charges related to any pupils at the school.

The images were downloaded over two years, though some 141,000 files had also been removed using hard drive cleaning software. It is not known whether any of these files were indecent images.

Mr Dunne said that there were also "concerning" internet searches made including "vibrators for teens" and "small silver vibrator."

He added that "something in excess of 14,000" non-indecent images of children at his school were also found on the devices.

He was arrested on June 9, but entered no comment on his first interview.

Four days later he called police asking to be re-interviewed and admitted downloading the images.

Defending for him Azza Brown, said Allen had worked hard with an alcohol treatment program since his arrest, though she said he could not be classed as "alcohol dependent."

Allen will also be subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years and will have to sign the Sex Offender Register for the same period, both of which will [prevent him working with children.