April 2015

Hull teaching assistant jailed over 200,000 ‘disgusting’ images of children

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A TEACHING assistant has been jailed for 18 months for making or possessing more than 200,000 “disgusting” images of children, and sexually assaulting a child

Lee Burnett, 47, worked in schools across Hull before his arrest following an international police operation.

He was caught after information provided by Canadian police relating to the sale of DVDs was passed to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

Burnett claimed he had “given up” looking for indecent images on the internet two years before his arrest, but Hull Crown Court heard this was impossible to prove.

His offending spanned eight years to January 2014, and during that time he worked at a number of primary and secondary schools.

Between 2000 and 2010, he was a paid learning mentor at Archbishop Thurston secondary in Hopewell Road, east Hull, which became Archbishop Sentamu Academy in Preston Road, east Hull, in 2008.

Burnett was a volunteer study supervisor at the former Kingswood College of Arts between 2012 and 2013, when it became Kingswood Academy.

He worked as a teaching assistant at Newington Academy, a primary school in Dairycoates Avenue, west Hull, between November 2013, and February last year.

Burnett, of Carol Dickson Court, west Hull, admitted 12 counts of making or possessing indecent photographs of children, one count of possessing extreme pornographic images, and one of sexual assault on a child under 13.

The assault victim cannot be identified for legal reasons.

In total, he had more than 200,000 indecent images of children, about 3,000 extreme pornographic images, and about 1,000 extreme pornographic films.

Jailing Burnett for a total of 18 months, Judge Michael Mettyear told him: “The images were numerous and disgusting and they were kept on a number of different devices.

“Thank goodness there was no distribution or sharing of the images.

“So far as those images are concerned, it’s not suggested you were the person actually carrying out the abuse, but even viewing can encourage those that are abusing to continue what they are doing, because they know that there is a market for people like you.

“You claimed there was no new material downloaded for a period of two years – it’s impossible to prove that one way or the other.

“It’s quite clear there was major activity right up to the time that you were arrested.

“It’s clear that you are an isolated, somewhat lonely man, and the written evidence put before me shows that you are liked by those close to you.

“Your problem is that you have a sexual attraction to children.”

Burnett was ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for ten years.

In a statement, Kate Munson, interim independent chair of the Hull Safeguarding Children Board (HSCB), said: “The HSCB and its member agencies work together to ensure that people who are employed to work with children and young people who commit such offences are brought swiftly to justice.

“Mr Burnett was working at Newington Academy at the time of his arrest.

“He has previously worked at two other schools in the city.

“As soon as he was arrested by the police he was suspended from duty.

“He is no longer employed by any local school”