September 2022

Former Witney teaching assistant had indecent images of children

A former teaching assistant was arrested at his then school – after authorities in the US linked a Kik account in his name to child sex abuse images.

Non-profit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children contacted UK police as a user on the social media site was believed to have shared indecent images of children in August 2019.

The Kik account was linked to the IP address at Benjamin Pooley’s then home in Witney – and the account set up with his email address and phone number.

Oxford Crown Court heard police officers executed a warrant at the 28-year-old’s home on March 4 last year.

“However, Mr Pooley had moved out of the address four weeks earlier. He was arrested at his place of work, which was a school in Witney,” prosecutor James Gwatkin said.

Pooley, who in 2019 appeared on an episode of quiz show favourite Countdown, was interviewed by the police on two occasions. He denied association with the Kik account or that he had downloaded illegal images of children.

That was unmasked as a lie when two devices – an iPhone found on him at the school and a computer seized from his home in Stanton Harcourt – were analysed by police specialists.

In total, he had 22 images in category A, the most serious category and which includes depiction of child rape. There were two category B images, 38 in category C and 15 prohibited images of children. Some of the children in the pictures were pre-pubescent.

There was evidence of Google searches for ‘extreme’ pornography in 2020 and 2021.

Sentencing him to eight months’ imprisonment suspended for two years, Judge Michael Gledhill QC told Pooley: “The children in those images that you were looking at for your own sexual gratification were being abused by others and, but for the likes of you paying for those images, they would be unlikely to be abused.

“So, you are directly responsible, albeit in part, for the sexual abuse of pre-pubescent children – to say nothing of the older ones. You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.”