A former teacher at a Northamptonshire school who possessed and distributed indecent images of children has been jailed for two years.
Mark Willimott, 41, was a former vice-principal at Brooke Weston Academy in Corby and pleaded guilty to four offences at Kettering Magistrates’ Court in January this year.
Northampton Crown Court heard today (Thursday) how Willimott was ‘an obsessive collector’ and had more than 30,000 indecent images on his laptop.
Most of the images – which were all categorised to make it “easier for him to find a specific act” – were of boys, and none were of children at Brooke Weston.
The court heard that police were passed intelligence relating to Willimott’s email address and Skype ID and raided his house on August 6 last year.
He was found to have distributed 128 images, of which 31 were Category A images and videos.
A chat log also found him to have sent a message to a fellow distributor saying “I always dream one day you will send me a video of someone I have seen in Corby or Kettering”.
He claimed that the images were not representative of a sexual interest in children, saying he got his kicks from “collecting pictures from others to create the biggest collection he could”.
Prosecuting, Dominic Woolard said: “Mr Willimott was a man of integrity and took pride in his job.
“He was trained about the risks posed by the internet for children and teaching was his life.
“While he was not directly abusing a position of trust he should have known better.”
A psychologist’s report stated that Willimott had ‘a very unusual personality’ and started collecting adult porn before his compulsion with images of children, but was never a risk to children.
The teacher previously made the headlines in 2013 after accidentally replying to a children’s charity’s email request for a pyjama day to raise funds, labelling it as “a paedophile’s paradise”.
Mitigating, James Gray said Willimott acknowledged his crimes and was deeply ashamed.
He said: “None of this was driven by a sexual interest in children.
“Mr Willimott is deeply ashamed by his actions which did not extend beyond the four walls of his home.”
Summarising, Her Honour Judge Lucking QC said: “You had a large responsibility and were knowledgable of the issues of the internet.
“You of all people should have known better.
“You have a form of OCD but in my view that does not explain why you have a sexual interest in children in the first place.
“The Category A images were extremely unpleasant images of children and I am afraid you do have a sexual interest in them.”
Willimott was sentenced to two years in prison for the charge of distributing images, eight months in prison for each of the charges of making images, and one month in prison for a further charge of possessing an extremely indecent image involving an animal.
The sentences will be served concurrently and he is likely to serve half before being released on licence.
He must also sign the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.
A statement from Brooke Weston Academy said: “Brooke Weston Academy is shocked and appalled by Mark Willimott’s conduct.
“The police investigation determined that none of the activity took place using school equipment or involved any of our students.
“The safety of students at the Academy has and will always be our paramount concern and we have robust safeguarding procedures which have been complied with.”