Teacher who spied on pupils jailed - Hertfordshire

19/04/2013

A PE teacher secretly filmed boys and girls in a state of undress so he could capture images of their underwear.

John King was obsessed with the white underpants of young primary school children.

He would set up a secret video camera in a bag or brief case to film the children in changing rooms, moving it around to film them.

King kept meticulous diaries detailing his actions, telling how he had filmed the children and the pleasure he'd got from viewing the footage later.

Michael Speak prosecuting for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) told St Albans Crown Court "It was clear from the diary entries he had a particular interest in the underwear of children, whether boys or girls.

"He spoke of being aroused by what he had seen and talking in almost poetic terms about underpants and the purity of their whiteness."

The court heard how bachelor King regarded his sordid activity as his "life's work."

King, who lived on a canal boat on the Grand Union Canal at Church Locke, Leighton Buzzard, Beds, filmed scores of boys and girls at school across Hertfordshire.

He worked as a supply PE teacher and was assigned to work at schools through an agency.

In court he pleaded guilty to 11 charges of voyeurism involving 11 different schools in St Albans, Watford, Hemel Hempstead and Welwyn, Radlett, Bushey and Flamstead.  The offences covered a five year period between 2003 and 2008, said Mr Speak.

King came to the attention of police in December 2011 when detectives in Staffordshire arrested another man who had been sent some of King's secret filming, because he too enjoyed looking at youngsters in their underwear.

As result of that enquiry, police went to the canal boat home of King.

It was at a lock up garage connected to King that police found his journals in which he had recorded how, for many years, he had covertly filmed youngsters when he had been employed as a supply teacher at the various schools.

"He described it as his life's work" said Mr Speak who said police discovered he had also downloaded from the internet child sex abuse images, some which were of the very worst kind.

But they also discovered still images of children in states of undress, which appeared to be stills from movie clips, which said Mr Speak, suggested a camera had been covertly used.

King was finally arrested by police in August of last year following lengthy enquiries and in a kit bag belonging to him, officers discovered 66 pairs of boys underpants.

A second canal boat connected to King was also searched and it was in nearby undergrowth off Old Linslade Road in Leighton Buzzard that police found more CDs and slides in plastic containers.

Judge Stephen Gullick was told that videos recovered showed youngsters getting dressed or undressed and police were able to identify the schools concerned from uniforms. Diary entries revealed how King had targeted some children for filming who he regarded as special. He enjoyed watching films of young boys getting changed for football.

In another diary entry he wrote about how he wished he could extend his stay at the school so that he could take more secret footage of a particular school girl in her underwear.

The court was told that during police interviews, King admitted his interest in children's underwear and said he would derive "sexual gratification from watching footage of it."

Mr Speak said King told officers he'd never had a sexual relationship with anyone.

In addition to the voyeurism charges, King also pleaded guilty to four offences of making indecent photos of children, four offences of possessing indecent images of children and two charges of distributing indecent images.

Miss Giuseppina Silvio defending said "He made a full and frank admission and he understood it was a breach of trust of the children in his care and the parents and his colleagues. He takes full responsibility for what he has done. Fortunately, there was no direct physical harm to any of the children.

"He clearly had an interest in the underwear of the children. It was never his intention to harm them physically," she said.

Passing sentence Judge Gullick told King: "The degree of the breach of trust is very considerable indeed."

He told King he had made his position worse by sending three films to a man in Staffordfshire.

The Judge said he accepted King was now remorseful, but he said: "These children know they have been surreptitiously photographed by their teacher, which will understandably have some effect on them."

He jailed King for a total of three-and-a-half years and disqualified him from working with children again.

He was made the subject of a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO) for the rest of his life and his name will be go on the sex offenders' register.

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