August 2010

Pupils find child abuse images on teacher’s laptop

Horrified pupils discovered their teacher was a child porn collector when they found perverted files on his laptop during a science lesson.

Michael Humphreys, 32, had allowed the teenagers to use the computer to play chess. But when they clicked on his recycle bin they found sick deleted folders with names including ‘paedo girl’.

A police raid at Humphreys’ home found he had amassed more than 25,000 child porn images and movies on a computer tower, hard drive and memory stick.

The vast majority of the material was at level 1 – the least serious category – but a handful showed girls as young as six performing sex acts.

Humphreys’ pupils – in year 11 at Chorlton High School in south Manchester – did not open the laptop files or view any of the material. But after they told their parents what they had found, the teacher – of Catterick Avenue, Didsbury – was suspended and arrested by police.

He walked free from Manchester Crown Court yesterday after pleading guilty to 21 specimen counts of possessing indecent images of children.

Humphreys was employed by the school on March 16 last year after qualifying the year before. He was caught out just weeks after taking up the post. When police swooped on his home they discovered a total of 25,091 files containing child porn.

He had used special ‘torrent searches’ to automatically trawl the internet for the material. Tina Langdale, defending, said he had started out looking for teenage models for an art project before building up his perverted collection for ‘personal use’.

It emerged during the case that Humphreys – who taught 15- and 16-year-olds as maternity cover – had been employed by Chorlton High despite telling bosses he had been bound over to keep the peace after admitting indecent assault in 1997.

That incident – described as a ‘prank in very bad taste’ – saw him remove the bra of a 18-year-old classmate as she slept. Humphreys was open about the matter and had been approved to teach by the General Teaching Council.

Andy Park, headteacher of Chorlton High, said outside court he had taken legal advice before offering Humphreys the job. Mr Park said: “We informed police as soon as we were told about the folder on his laptop in May last year. “His temporary contract was immediately suspended and he did not return to school. “The file name was spotted by a small group of students who had been allowed to use his laptop during a lesson. “The folder was not opened and at no time did pupils access any inappropriate material.

“We have been reassured by the police that none of the images on the computer are of pupils at the school. “I would like to thank the pupils concerned for their responsible actions, which meant we could inform police immediately.” Humphreys – who must sign the sex offenders’ register for seven years – was told he would never work with children again.

But Judge Michael Henshell sentenced him to four months in jail, suspended for two years, after the court heard he posed a low risk of re-offending.

The judge said: “This is the sort of case by which the general public would be no doubt alarmed on hearing the facts, to find out that somebody starting a teaching career had with them in school a laptop on which pupils discovered evidence of material of this sort.

“That amount of material is only maintained and sought for by somebody who has a very obvious sexual attraction to girls of these particular ages.” Humphreys must also attend a Probation Service programme and pay £600 costs.