May 2011

Jailed paedophile worked as a cook in Margate children’s centre

A PERVERT who kept more than 1,000 obscene images of child abuse on his computer had access to minors through his work at a community centre in Margate.

John Robert Shaw, 58, of Balmoral Road in Margate, was last week sentenced to 20 months behind bars at Canterbury Crown Court after police discovered 1,426 images and videos, some depicting sadism and bestiality, on his home computer.

An investigation by the Gazette has revealed that Shaw worked at St Paul’s Community Trust on St Paul’s Road in Cliftonville between June 2009 and March 2010 while out on licence for a manslaughter conviction.

This newspaper has obtained photographs of Shaw at the centre mixing freely with children and families who had no idea of his past.

Centre manager Elaine Phillips, 43, says she was aware of Shaw’s previous conviction after carrying out a Criminal Records Bureau check and that he himself had told her during a conversation.

But she said of the latest revelations: “It’s a total shock. He was employed here as a cook. He was always on time, did his shift and was very clean with a dry sense of humour.”

The centre, which is used by children’s centre Sure Start and groups for children as young as three years old, has CCTV.

However, Shaw, who also designed St Paul’s website, had access to a computer which was also used to back up CCTV recordings. Mrs Phillips added: “He had a computer he used in the computer room which had access to the CCTV cameras.”

Mrs Phillips maintains that Shaw’s access to children was limited and always monitored. She said: “If anyone hires different rooms, staff are not allowed in the area unless they are given permission. His contact with children on a day-to-day basis was almost zero because they were at school and he finished at 3pm. He did do a tuck shop for me and the kids would buy sweets but there were always other staff there.”

Garry Wrigley, 48, who worked at the centre as a caretaker between April 2008 and April 2010 and often took his children aged 7 and 11 along, says Shaw would often talk to them.

He said: “I feel sick knowing my children were in contact with him and we were not told about his previous conviction for manslaughter. I would not have let them go there. He used to play- fight and mess about with the children there.”

Mrs Phillips and the vicar of St Paul’s Church in Cliftonville, Patrick Ellisdin, who are both trustees of the St Paul’s Community Trust, defended their decision to hire Shaw. Mr Ellisdin added: “I believe in giving everyone a second chance.

“Any indication of offences of a sexual nature with children and we would not be able to employ that person.”

It is understood Shaw’s employment at the community centre and use of computers for the venue did not form part of the child pornography investigation.