Oct 2011

Ex school worker jailed for child porn offences

A FORMER school bursar from West Bergholt has been sentenced to one year in prison for making and possessing almost 50,000 indecent images of children.

Appearing at Chelmsford Crown court yesterday, Michael Collins, of Colchester Road, was also issued with a sexual offences prevention order, prohibiting him from working with children, and placed on the sex offender’s register for ten years.

During the sentencing, it emerged that the 61-year-old had worked as a bursar at two schools and held a senior post as a member of the United Reform Church.

Defending, Nneka Akudolu said Collins claimed he had wanted to help victims of child pornography and pray for them. But Judge Rodger Hayward Smith QC dismissed the them as ‘absolute rubbish’.

The married father of three committed the offences at an address in Donard Drive in West Bergholt before June 18, 2010.

In court, he faced three separate charges, including making around 10,000 indecent photographs of children on his laptop and around 400 on an external hard drive.

He also faced a charge of possessing indecent photographs of children, of which there were approximately 38,000 ranging up to category 5, the most serious category.

Yesterday the court heard how Collins’ wife had started divorce proceedings two days after his arrest and that his children have since cut off all contact with him.

Up until his arrest, he worked as a financial officer at mental health charity MIND in Colchester and was of previous good character.

Collins had initially claimed he accidentally downloaded the images on to his computer but he later confessed to his wife that he had been getting up during the night to look at the pictures for three years.

In his summing up, Judge Smith said: “There were a very large number of images in total. The pictures are dreadful. I have seen an example – I need not describe it, and the word dreadful does not come anywhere near it.

“Every time an indecent image is being taken, that child is being sexually exploited and abused and your interest proves a market for the exploitation, abuse and degradation of children. That is why it’s abhorrent and illegal.”

He also described Collins’ initial dishonesty as ‘chilling’.

He added: “You have done much in your life that is in your credit. I have read references on your behaviour. I have been asked to give you a community order but I regret this case is too serious for that.

“In my view the only proper sentence is one of immediate imprisonment.”