June 2016

Former teacher spent £12,000 downloading indecent images and videos of children


A retired teacher has been spared jail after pleading guilty to spending nearly £12,000 downloading indecent images and videos of children.

Gareth Bursnall admitted two charges of making indecent images of children, relating to 3,719 photos and videos found on his computer, when he appeared at Crawley Magistrates’ Court on June 1.

The 66-year-old had his sentencing adjourned while a pre-sentence report was prepared.

Bursnall, of Camelot Court in Ifield, was given a suspended prison sentence by the magistrates.

Prosecutor Melanie Wotton told the court that the defendant had been caught on November 13, 2014 following an investigation by police.

She said: “Police officers from the POLIT team (Sussex Police’s paedophile investigation team) were monitoring his internet usage and found that there were 200 child sexual abuse movies he had purchased between 2007 and 2011 to the value of £11,936.

“Police officers attended his home address, he handed over his computer with a number of indecent images of children on it. Mr Bursnall was interviewed. He made full admissions and has pleaded guilty.”

Defending solicitor Geoff White told the court that Bursnall had previously worked as a teacher for two decades, and, in mitigation, said he had found it hard to come to terms with his sexuality.

He said: “It is difficult for me to advocate a defence for this, but he does take full responsibility and he is extremely sorry for what he has done.

“He is a man of good character. He comes from a generation where it is difficult to express their homosexuality, where it isn’t thought to be acceptable.

“What he has done, however, is unlawful, but that is the road he has taken. This has tarnished his previous good character where he once worked for 20 years as a teacher.

“When the police knocked at the door he guessed that is what it was about. This has been a wake up call for him and he understands that he will be placed on the Sex Offenders Register.”

Chairman of the bench Gary Gates said: “We have two offences of making indecent images, they are extremely serious offences – the period of time to which they were carried out, the value and in excess of 3,000 images.

“We have taken into account your early guilty plea and everything the Probation [Service] has given us.

“However, we are going to deal with this today as a sentence of 18 weeks in custody, suspended for two years. This would have been 26 weeks had you not pleaded guilty. You will also be placed on the Sex Offenders Register for seven years.”

Bursnall was also ordered to pay an £80 victim surcharge as well as £80 court costs.