May 2010

Dyslexia expert spared jail over almost 7,000 child porn images

A WORLD expert in child dyslexia has avoided jail, despite being caught with almost 7,000 sick images of children.

Retired University of Hull lecturer Dr Christopher Singleton pleaded guilty at Hull Crown Court to nine counts of accessing indecent images and has been given a suspended prison sentence.

He was caught as part of an international operation against online paedophiles.

The 65-year-old, of Hull Road, Cottingham, is responsible for groundbreaking work in diagnosing dyslexia in children.

The court heard he had more than 6,734 indecent images of children on his computer – 1,000 images were at the worst level.

He downloaded them over a three-year period dating from 2006.

He has worked with hundreds of children in developing the world’s first computer programme to test five-year-olds for dyslexia.

Judge Roger Thorn QC said: “This is a tragedy for everyone associated with you. You have come to the end of your professional career aged 65 and it has ended in such a disastrous way for you and that’s its own punishment.

“You are a psychologist and have spent your professional life in that discipline and had a special interest in child development. You, of all people, must be aware these are not victimless crimes.

“You have lectured on child abuse. That’s a gross hypocrisy when you were doing it yourself. Behind every one of these ghastly pictures there was a real child.”

“I expressed alarm for those kind friends of yours who obviously trusted and believed in you, who couldn’t bring themselves to believe what you had done. But you have done it and your friends have heard the evidence and they have to accept what you have done.

“This is a dreadfully shameful period for you. There are those in court who will forgive you, whether or not you forgive yourself is another matter,”

His barrister Anil Murray said Singleton is “overwhelmed with shame and remorse”.

He said: “This defendant began having an interest in art and would draw nude paintings using naked pictures and that’s how he started going on the internet. He accepts he moved on and went further than that. He began looking at porn.

“He didn’t do it for the children. He says he never deliberately searched for child porn.

“He wants to reassure the public that his role was not to be in contact with children when he did his research.”

Singleton was investigated by the Internet Sex Offender Investigation Section of Humberside Police last February as part of Operation Typhoon.

He has been given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for three years and ordered to undertake a sex offenders’ programme.

He has been placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years and given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order and has to show his computer to the police on a regular basis.

Singleton retired from the university last June after 40 years.

He is a leading figure in the study of dyslexia and last year the Government used his research to shape the national policy on dealing with the condition.