Oct 2004

Porn shame of housemaster

A TEACHER at an independent school has pleaded guilty to multiple charges of making indecent images of children.

Christopher Wells, 43, a housemaster at Sutton Valence School, near Maidstone, admitted 39 counts of making indecent images of children when he appeared at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court.

Wells, formerly of Westminster House at Sutton Valence School, admitted that between 1999 and 2004, he had made indecent photos of children on 36 occasions, and in the same period made indecent photos of children depicted in short movie clip films on three occasions.

Wells lived at the school in North Street, Sutton Valence, in his capacity as a teacher and housemaster.

On July 1, police officers visited the school and found Wells was on a school trip. They searched his classroom and his flat and seized a large number of items, including computer equipment.

About 4,000 images of naked children were discovered. The images were classed level one and two – the lowest of five categories of pornographic images.

Mark Lindley, prosecuting, said the pictures were downloaded onto a computer and an evidence-destroying device was used to prevent them being found. They were then saved to disc and stored away from the computer.

“There was clearly some sophistication used in relation to covering his tracks,” said Mr Lindley.

He said Wells accessed the internet using the addresses of other school masters. “As a result of these e-mail addresses those people were put down as potential suspects,” he said. “Clearly there was a risk to others.”

John Roberts, defending, said that he had been instructed not to resist the decision of the bench in relation to sentencing.

He said Wells had pleaded guilty very early and was of good character.

Magistrates said that given the large amount of images, that Wells was a teacher and that he used the names of third parties, their powers of conviction were too limited.

Wells was remanded in custody for sentencing at Crown Court. He had to sign the Sex Offenders Register.

Nobody from Sutton Valence school would comment on the case. Parents were told about Wells in a letter sent by head teacher Joe Davies in August.

He wrote: “Mr Chris Wells, head of modern languages, has been suspended from school and will not be resuming his responsibilities when term starts in September.

“This follows police inquiries relating to activities on the internet. We would like to stress that none of the inquiry has involved any pupil or other member of staff. Mr Wells has now resigned from the school.”