July 2022

Teaching assistant and gymnastics coach caught with indecent images of kids

A teaching assistant and gymnastics coach who was working directly with particularly vulnerable children in Cardiff was found to have indecent images of children and animals on his mobile phone.

Images discovered by police on Sam Picone’s phone were kept in a file on social media platform Snapchat labelled “For my eyes only”, Cardiff Crown Court heard on Tuesday.

Picone, of Maes Y Drudwen, Caerphilly , spoke only to confirm his name and address.

He was convicted of possessing indecent photographs of children and having extreme pornographic images of an animal.

None of the indecent images Picone was found to have on his mobile phone related to children he knew or was directly working with at the school or at the gymnastics club.

Georgina Buckley, prosecuting, told the court that Picone’s home address which he shared with his mother was visited by police on the morning of February 16. Picone’s mother answered the door and told police he’d gone to work.

Gwent Police officers then went to the school Picone worked at as a teaching assistant – a job he’s since had to leave – and arrested him.

Picone, represented in court by Ben Waters, immediately admitted the contents of his Snapchat file and police also found indecent images of children and indecent images of animals being raped by humans

Judge Niclas Parry told 24-yea-old Picone: “Everything you have viewed was actually happening to these children. These things happen because people view these images.

“You have significant mitigation. You pleaded guilty immediately, you have never been in trouble before, and you have lost everything as a result of what you’ve done. You have lost your job, you have lost your voluntary work.”

Picone was only punished for his possession of the category A images – showing rape and torture of young children – of which there were 13 in total.

For reasons unknown, charges against the remaning indecent images of kids and animals were not followed through to conviction.

He received a 36-month community service order and was ordered to undergo a rehabilitation course with the Horizon project.

He was also told he would be banned from being in the care and custody of females aged under 18.