August 2011

Heswall school governor jailed over indecent images of children

A primary school governor who led “a private and depraved” secret life amassing thousands of indecent images of children was jailed for 12 months.

A judge told 65-year-old David Baines, who also taught recorder at Heswall Primary School and was its unofficial photographer, that he had let down the school and its pupils.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that when police raided his home on March 17 this year Baines, chairman of the school governors, admitted looking at such images and in his bedside cabinet they found seven indecent colour photographs.

When his computer equipment was analysed a total of 11,067 images, including four movies, were found and they covered all five categories of seriousness of such images.

Judge Graham Morrow, QC, told bearded Baines, “You abused your position of trust at that school and all those involved in the running of that school.

“All the parents and pupils must feel terribly let down and justifiably outraged at your behaviour.

“For many of those years when involved with the school you led a private and depraved life while giving the outward appearance of a man willing to give his time and energy to the well being, development and success of the school and its pupils.”

He also told Baines, of Shrewsbury Road, Heswall, that he had been assessed by a probation officer as “posing a high-risk of harm to children.”

The father-of-three daughters, who had admitted 11 offences of downloading images, showed no emotion as he was led to the cells.

Baines was ordered to sign on the Sex Offenders Register for seven years and a Sexual Offences Prevention Order restricting his internet use was made for ten years.

Numerous character references were given to the court, including one from his brother, a former policeman, who said he “had never been and never will be a danger to children.”

His daughters and ex-wife all spoke highly of him and his daughter Helen, said she had “never seen a more broken and remorseful person.”

David McLachlan, prosecuting, told the court that Baines, had been a volunteer governor at the school for 14 to 15 years. “He went on a lot of school trips and interacted with the children at the school.

“He would teach the recorder once a week and was also the unofficial school photographer. He was a very familiar figure at the school.”

Baines admitted, “I have seen indecent images of children, yes.”

When interviewed Baines admitted he looked at child porn quite regularly, despite knowing it was wrong. He admitted being interested in girls from aged nine but said he did not know why he liked looking at such images.

Philip Astbury, defending, said that Baines has no previous convictions and had made a positive contribution to the local community.

There was no suggestion that he had acted inappropriately with any child and or become involved with the school to facilitate the interest he developed.

“He feels genuine shame, regret and genuine contrition and remorse. The consequences will continue to live with him forever.”