June 2013

Bristol teacher Phillip Vowles jailed for taking pictures of children

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A SUPPLY teacher reported for taking photos of pupils has been jailed for a year after police found 111,629 indecent images of children on his computer.

Phillip Vowles taught history, maths, IT and RE in schools around Bristol but was investigated after complaints he took snaps of mainly teenaged girls on school grounds.

Police then discovered the child abuse images files, which he claimed were either downloaded by accident or by others, Bristol Crown Court heard.

Vowles, 64, of Southfield, Kingswood, denied wrongdoing but was convicted of 16 counts of making indecent images of children following a trial last month.

Judge Graham Hume Jones told him: “In your past you were in the teaching profession, since 1984. That is capable of being an aggravating feature.

“You should be aware of the dangers to children caused by the production of indecent images, for people who download images of this nature only add to the market.”

The judge, who stressed there was no evidence Vowles distributed the images, ordered him to register as a sex offender for ten years and banned him from working with children.

Vowles was also made the subject of a sexual offences prevention order designed to keep him away from youngsters indefinitely.

Kerry Barker, prosecuting, said complaints about Vowles photographing pupils prompted an investigation and discovery of indecent child images on his computer.

Vowles told police the material may have landed there by itself, and he had loaned his computer equipment to others.

During the course of the investigation police traced websites visited by the computer and indecent material in his computer recycle bin.

Police also established Vowles had taken photos of girls in school uniform around Kingswood and Keynsham.

Ian Dixey, defending, said the only images accessible were images that had been deleted.

He told the court: “There was no other image accessible except with use of specialist equipment which Mr Vowles didn’t have.

“Therefore he didn’t have it available to him at the time of arrest.

“This is evidence of what he looked at in the past.”

Mr Dixey said there was considerable duplication of images in the total amount and no suggestion they had been shared.

He told the court: “This is purely for his own use.”

Mr Dixey said his client found it difficult to come to terms with what happened and had not made arrangements in case he was sent to prison.

Detective constable Sarah King, the police officer in charge of the case, said: “He is a very devious, methodical person. He was a difficult person to deal with and he would have to be seen as a risk to children whilst he is in denial of the offences.”