October 2007

Teacher is jailed for child porn downloads

A TEACHER who was working with children in Newton was caught downloading child porn.

Mark Billing, who was teaching at Redbank Community Home, claims that at the time he was teaching boys who had committed sex attacks and some who had been abused themselves and they would talk about Internet websites.

As he had not encountered the subject before and couldn’t get my head round it’ he decided to look on the Internet to gain an understanding of the issues affecting his students.

But his claims that he had been motivated out of curiosity and not sexual gratification were not accepted by the prosecution.

Police seized two computer towers and five CDs from his home in Birkenhead and 1,209 indecent images, both stills and videos, which he had downloaded said Geoffrey Fryar, prosecuting.

Liverpool Crown Court heard last Friday that 44-year-old Billing was arrested in February 2005 by Merseyside Police involved in Operation Sirdar.

In total 21 websites were investigated and it was found that the host company was in Belarus but payments were routed through the United States. Examination revealed Billing had subscribed to one of them.

The images found at Billing’s home in Wharfedale Avenue, were mainly in the lowest category but there were others in the four more serious categories, said Mr Fryar.

In his basis of plea he accepted he had become obsessed. He also expressed regret for his actions.

Jailing him for six months Judge William George said the offences were of great public concern.

He said: “You had a lot going for you in the teaching profession but you have this grave flaw that while teaching you were committing these very serious offences involving the exploitation of children.”

Billing was banned from working with children for life, ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for seven years and given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order prohibiting him from using the Internet except for educational or travel purposes.

Billing, now of Green Lane, Great Sutton, pleaded guilty to 11 offences of making indecent images.

Lee Gerrard defending, said that his behaviour, which at the time he did not realise was criminal, had cost Billing his career, his wife and he is also now estranged from his children.

He has also suffered a heart attack and takes medication for angina.

He is working as a HGV driver and his new partner and mother were supporting him and were present in court, said Mr Gerrard.