March 2015

Ex-teacher who downloaded indecent images of children avoids jail term

McKenna

A former teacher who downloaded hundreds of indecent images of children has avoided a prison sentence.

Judge Norman Wright told Darren McKenna, 48, that he had escaped imprisonment by “the skin of his teeth.”

McKenna, a former teacher and school governor, pleaded guilty to three counts of downloading indecent images of children and one of possessing them.

Simon Duncan, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court that McKenna, of Avon Road, Billinge, had used encryption software to access the images, which included a video.

He said: “Police discovered search terms indicative of an active interest in searching out indecent images of children. He said that he enjoyed the feeling of breaking the rules. He said he started viewing the images six years ago while looking for adult pornography as a way of escaping from marital stress.”

Mr Duncan added that McKenna, a Keystage 4 manager at the Launchpad Pupil Referral Unit, in College Street, Ste Helens, a centre for children and young adults with behavioural problems, claimed not to get any sexual gratification from looking at the images.

St Helens council said he quit his job after his arrest.

Carmel Wilde, mitigating, said that McKenna had been stressed working two jobs simultaneously.

She said: “This behaviour is wholly out of character for a man of previous good character who has previously been a school governor.”

She also read an excerpt from a statement by McKenna, which said: “I’d just like to apologise for my actions and all the people it has affected and for the consequences to my family.”

Ms Wilde added: “He saw his behaviour as a sort of twisted punishment for his marital difficulties. He was seeking solace and his behaviour got out of control, and he suffered a nervous breakdown.”

Judge Wright, who gave McKenna a six-month sentence suspended for two years, said that the crimes were not “victimless” and added: “Your viewing these images keeps the market going. You played your part by downloading them in this evil market which has caused children to be abused when these photographs are taken.”

He added because of an early guilty plea, and McKenna’s previous good character led him to suspend the sentence.

He also implemented a two year supervision order and an order for McKenna to attend a sex offenders rehabilitation programme.

The judge went on to emphasise that there was no suggestion that McKenna acted improperly with any children.