October 2010

Deputy headteacher jailed for seven years for encouraging child rape

A former deputy headteacher who encouraged a man to rape a three-year-old child as he watched the attack on a webcam was jailed for seven years today.

Patrick Lennon, 59, of Warwick Avenue, Crosby, Merseyside who taught at Greenbank high school in Southport, and was described as a pillar of society, admitted encouraging Joseph Hawley, 38, to rape the child, who cannot be identified, in November 2008. He also admitted 15 charges of making and possessing indecent and pornographic images of children and a further six offences of possessing extreme images.

Hawley, from Bolton, Greater Manchester, admitted raping the child on three occasions and other offences, including three assaults. The court heard he abused the child from the age of two. He was jailed for an indeterminate sentence but must serve a minimum of eight years.

Judge Mark Brown at Liverpool crown court described Lennon’s behaviour as deviant and depraved and said Hawley’s abuse of the child was beyond comprehension. It was “quite remarkable that you don’t appreciate the violation”, he said. Hawley was a devious and controlling individual who was lacking in empathy, he said.

A third defendant, Philip Skitt, 54, from Wigan, who also watched Hawley’s assaults on a webcam and encouraged him, was jailed for eight years.

Skitt’s wife works as a childminder. The judge said none of the children she cared for had been affected, but it must have been a concern for their parents.

The judge also said that there was no evidence any child at Greenbank school had been harmed. Judge Brown said Lennon, a married father of two, had compartmentalised his life, with an outward appearance of respectability.

It demonstrated the level of skill, organisation and deviousness he used to conceal his activities.

He was arrested following an investigation of chatrooms by authorities in Canada.

When a user was arrested, questioning revealed a link to Lennon in Liverpool.

He was arrested in September 2009 and his computer was examined by police. Two other users were identified – Hawley and Skitt.

Forensics experts found more than 500 indecent images on his computer, including four of a child being abused and 42 images of bestiality.

During interviews on 23 March this year, he admitted pretending to be a 14-year-old girl, Paula Jones, when online, and adopted the identity of “Stargazer” in his chats with Hawley and Skitt, both of whom knew his real identity.

When asked about the chat logs from the little child’s rape, he pretended it was all fantasy.The court was told that Hawley and Skitt knew each other as friends but had met Lennon through the internet. When police searched Skitt’s house they found images of a child dancing naked that had been filmed using a hidden camera. A spy camera was also found by police in his house that would download images to any computer in the house.