August 2017

Ex-headteacher, 67, caught with thousands of sick child abuse images is spared jail for a second time

A former headteacher who downloaded thousands of sick child abuse images was today allowed to walk free from court for a second time.

Married Thomas Melling was convicted of sexually touching a child in 1999 after kissing one of his pupils but was sentenced for new offences.

The 67-year-old was found with 912 category A images – the worst level – 622 category B images, 1,268 category C images and two extreme pornographic images involving a dog and a horse.

Guildford Crown Court heard that he was also found with 12 cartoon indecent images of children on two hard drives and a computer that were seized by police earlier this year.

WhatsApp messages found on two Samsung Galaxy phones seized by police also showed Melling had shown interest in a nine-year-old child from a family in Kenya he was sponsoring.

Melling, whose previous conviction was mentioned by the judge in his sentencing remarks, was today handed a three-year community order and was ordered to carry out a 100-day treatment program in addition to paying costs of £480.

He was also given a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order, restricting his use of the internet and banning him from travelling to Kenya, and made to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for a decade.

Prosecuting, Tim Devlin told the court that Melling, who was still being supported financially by his teacher wife, was convicted of sexually assaulting a child in 1999 in a historical case that dated back to the early 1980s.

Melling, of Woolmer Hill Road, Haslemere, Surrey, was arrested when police officers raided his home on April 27 after being alerted by peer-to-peer file-sharing software companies.

Mr Devlin said: ‘Police went around to his address at 6.35am. He lives there with his wife. He is 67, a former teacher.’

He was arrested and released with a caution while police seized his hard drives and computer, where they found the images, as well as two Samsung Galaxy smartphones. 

Sentencing, Judge Peter Moss said: ‘Thomas Melling, you pleaded guilty at the Magistrates’ Court to five offences relating to indecent images of children.

‘There were in count one 912 category A images, in count two 622 category B images and in court three 1,268 category C images.

‘There are two further charges, one of possession of two extreme pornographic images and the last count of possessing 12 prohibited images of children which I understand to be cartoons. Those are all serious offences.

‘It’s difficult for most people to comprehend why someone would want to look at let alone store such material and you definitely have stored this material.’

He added: ‘You clearly have an interest in sexual abuse and indecent images of children, both boys and girls and this is not the first time you have appeared before a court.’

He continued: ‘By your viewing [the indecent images], it perpetrates the production of such material that others are creating.’