July 2004

Child abuse images teacher behind bars

A Coventry teacher, who went on the run for more than 18 months after being accused of child porn offences, was today behind bars.

Andrew Locking, 40, who lived in Queensland Avenue, Chapelfields, assumed another name after disappearing while on police bail in October 2002.

He had been charged with downloading indecent/abusive images of children from the internet.

Locking, who worked as an agency teacher at schools in Coventry, was discovered by police living at a caravan park, in Bridgewater, Somerset, on May 18.

At Coventry Crown Court yesterday, Judge Stephen Oliver-Jones QC described Locking’s offences as “disgusting”.

He sentenced him to six months for making 17 indecent images of children. He pleaded guilty to all charges.

Locking was also sentenced to two months, to run concurrently, for failing to surrender to bail, and was ordered to sign on the sex offenders’ register for seven years. He will stay on licence for three years following the end of his sentence.

The court heard that Locking had downloaded 290 images, with 269 of class one, the least serious, and a total of nine at levels three and four, the most serious.

Robert McMaster, prosecuting, said on October 17, 2002, as part of Operation Ore, police executed a warrant at Locking’s home and he was arrested.

Mr McMaster said police had received information that Locking had paid to access a child pornography website in the United States.

Interviewed by police, Locking said he had accessed child pornography sites and had, on occasions, paid to view the images.

Mr McMaster said Locking was bailed by police and, when his computer was inspected “more than 300 images” and four moving images were found.

But he said in September 2003 Locking was reported as a missing person by his sister, and appeals for him to return appeared in national papers.

When arrested, Mr McMaster said Locking told officers he had been travelling around Britain, staying at a number of addresses, using a false name.

Mr McMaster said Locking disputed he had downloaded certain images, and was of previous good character. He had admitted offences at the earliest opportunity.

Robert Smith, defending, said there was “no suggestion” that Locking used his position to interfere with children.

He said Locking had been a “troubled man”, who had, at various times, been seriously unwell, and amassed significant personal debts.

Adding that these factors played a part in his disappearance, Mr Smith said Locking appreciated what he had done and aimed to address his problems. He said: “It is important to note that this is a man well motivated to change and who seeks positively to change.”