August 2013

Ex-school governor caught with child abuse images is spared jail

A former school governor has escaped jail after being caught with hundreds of child abuse images – some showing victims as young as two.

Steve Sibbering, 47, was found to have nearly 300 child abuse pictures on his computer when police raided his home in Northenden.

Sibbering, who served as chair of governors at St Elizabeth’s Catholic Primary School in Wythenshawe , pleaded guilty to 16 counts of making explicit photographs of children.

He was tracked down using intelligence gathered by the specialist Child Exploitation and Online Protection unit.

Police managed to recover pictures from his computer hard drive dating back three years which he had viewed and then deleted in a bid to cover his tracks.

Of the 280 pictures, 251 were graded level one, the least serious form of abuse.

However, eight were graded level four, the second most severe form of abuse, and showed children aged between two and four years of age.

There is no suggestion any of the photos relate to pupils at St Elizabeth’s Primary School.

Sibbering, of Cherington Close, admitted 16 counts of making indecent images.

But judge Mr Justice Field QC decided not to jail Sibbering when he appeared at Manchester Crown Court this week.

Instead the defendant, who had no previous convictions, was handed a three-year community order with supervision.

A five-year sex offender prevention order was also imposed and he was also told he was barred from working with children.

The court also heard Sibbering, a married father of two, had been sacked from his £46,000-a-year job with HM Revenue and Customs as a consequence of his crime. At an earlier hearing before magistrates, his defence barrister had argued that Sibbering should not be identified by the M.E.N because it would cause distress to other members of his family.

July 2013

Former Wythenshawe school governor pleads guilty to possessing hundreds of child abuse images

A former school governor has pleaded guilty to possessing hundreds of child abuse images – some showing children as young as two.

Steve Sibbering, 47, was found to have nearly 300 images of child abuse on his computer when police raided his home in Northenden, south Manchester.

Sibbering, who served as chair of governors at St Elizabeth’s Catholic Primary School innearby Wythenshawe, pleaded guilty to 16 counts of making explicit photographs of children. He had been tracked down using intelligence gathered by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection unit after viewing the images online.

Police found pictures which had been viewed and then deleted dating back three years on the hard drive of his computer, seized in a raid on his home. Of the 280 pictures, 251 were graded level one, the least serious form of abuse.

However, eight were graded level four, the second most severe form of abuse, and showed children aged between two and four years of age.

There is no suggestion any of the photos relate to pupils at St Elizabeth’s Primary School and the charges of ‘creating’ images refers to them being downloaded onto a computer.

Sibbering, of Cherington Close, spoke only to confirm his name and address and sat with his head in his hands.

At the start of the hearing his defence barrister had argued that Sibbering should not be identified by the M.E.N because it would cause distress to other members of his family.

However, the M.E.N. argued that there was a strong public interest in Sibbering’s offences being made known and magistrates allowed the hearing to go ahead in open court.

Magistrates at yesterday’s  hearing committed Sibbering to crown court for sentence next month. He was released on bail and must not have unsupervised contact with children under 16.

No-one at St Elizabeth’s was available for comment. However, a council spokesman confirmed that Sibbering resigned from the role several months ago.