January 2014

Former Hartlepool school governor jailed for sex attacks on girl


A FIRE officer and former school governor was today jailed for 11 years for sex crimes against a girl.

Gary Mason was also banned from working with children and put on the sex offenders’ register for life.

The 52-year-old walked free three years ago after he was caught with indecent images of children.

The attacks on a teenager were carried out at a time he was downloading abuse pictures from the internet.

Mason pinned down the child and subjected her to repeated assaults, Teesside Crown Court heard.

He denied nine charges of sexual assault and assault by penetration, but was found guilty of five of them.

Judge Howard Crowson, who heard the trial last month, told him today: “The evidence was clear.”

Mason served on the board of governors at High Tunstall College of Science in Hartlepool, and who worked as an arson awareness officer for Cleveland Fire Brigade.

He also served in the Army for 22 years after leaving school, reaching the rank of Captain, and also in the Territorial Army.

His victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the jury during the trial that she tried to fight off her well-built attacker, but he was too strong.

The jury was told how Mason admitted 17 counts of downloading indecent pictures of underage girls, and was dealt with in February 2011.

He was given an eight-month prison sentence, which was suspended for two years, with supervision, and was ordered to go on a sex offenders’ treatment programme.

Today, Mason, formerly of Sandbanks Drive, Hartlepool, and now of Broad Landings, South Shields, South Tyneside, was locked up for the first time.

Defence barrister, Jim Withyman, told the court: “The defendant has been a hard-working man in the past. He has served his country.”

November 2013

Pervert faces prison after being convicted of five child sex charges

A PERVERTED former school governor has been told he faces jail after being found guilty of a string of sex attacks on a girl.

Gary Mason had denied nine charges of sexual assault at Teesside Crown Court.

But the 52-year-old was found guilty of five of the offences after a three-day trial by a jury of six men and six women that took just three and half hours to come to their verdict.

Judge Howard Crowson told Mason, of Broad Landings, South Shields: “These sorts of offences usually merit custody. I don’t see any reason why not at the moment, I’m afraid.”

Mason, a former governor at High Tunstall College of Science in Hartlepool and civilian officer with Cleveland Fire Brigade, had been convicted of viewing child abuse images from the internet at a previous trial.

The sexual abuse case came to light after police discovered the child abuse images on his home computers.

His victim had told the court how Mason indecently touched her numerous times after overpowering her by pinning her down.

Mason said he had “never touched her”.

The court also heard Mason’s claims that he first stumbled across images of child abuse when he tried to download a Lord of the Rings film from a website.

He also said he watched a gruesome video of British kidnap victim Ken Bigley being beheaded up to 30 times as his depression was “spiralling”.

Mason, 52, is a former Army captain who served in Iraq for two years after Mr Bigley was kidnapped and murdered while working as an engineer in Baghdad in 2004.

Referring to some of the videos he watched, he told Teesside Crown Court: “I was viewing some really horrible things. I was looking at beheadings and terrorist atrocities and stuff going on in Baghdad.”

Mason told the court how he had served with the regular Army for 22 years from the age of 17, and then joined the fire brigade as a fire investigator and arson reduction officer.

In 2005 he joined the Territorial Army and was posted to Baghdad to help the Americans in the War on Terror until 2007.

Mason now drives a truck for a living following his conviction for child porn in February 2011.

He had been accused of six charges of sexual assault and three of assault by penetration.

He was found guilty of four counts of sexual assault and one of assault by penetration. The jury delivered ‘not guilty’ verdicts on the other counts.

Mason was granted bail while pre-sentence reports are prepared.

The case has been adjourned until January 10.

February 2011

Ex-fire officer had pictures of child abuse

THE career of a senior fire officer and school governor is in tatters after he was unmasked as a pervert with a “disturbing” interest in child pornography.

Gary Mason’s collection of sick pictures was unearthed when police searched his home in Hartlepool during an unconnected investigation.

Officers found a total of 1,861 images on his computers, and he was suspended from his roles at a secondary school and Cleveland Fire Brigade.

Yesterday, officials at High Tunstall College of Science, in Hartlepool, and the fire authority said the 49-year-old has since been dismissed.

At an earlier Teesside Crown Court hearing, Mason blamed his diabetes and an imbalance in his blood-sugar levels for his warped behaviour.

His barrister, Robin Denny, said neither the disgraced former soldier nor a psychiatrist who examined him were able to explain what he did.

Judge George Moorhouse said Mason’s actions – as well as an aggressive change in his personality – may have been linked to his time in Iraq.

The court heard that the father-of-two spent five years downloading indecent images from the internet, and one of the pictures showed a baby.

Mr Denny said: “There must have been something very disturbing which suddenly changed this man from a very respectable school governor.

“It seems to have been some sort of compulsion.”

Mason, of Sandbanks Drive, Hartlepool, admitted 17 charges of making indecent photographs of children between April 2005 and last April.

He was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with supervision, and an order to attend a sex offenders’ treatment programme.

Judge Moorhouse also ordered Mason to sign on the sex offenders’register for the next ten years and banned him for life from working with children.

The court heard Mason was an arson awareness co-ordinator and visited schools and colleges to give advice to youngsters about fire dangers.

Last night, High Tunstall headteacher Mark Tilling said: “The offences do not relate in any way to his activities as a former governor at High Tunstall.”

He said Mason was suspended as a governor as soon as the allegations came to light, and was dismissed five months later, in October.

A fire brigade spokesman said officials had co-operated with the police during the investigation and Mason was no longer employed by them.

Detective Inspector Mike Cane, from Cleveland Police’s vulnerability unit, said: “These were sickening images of children being sexually abused.”