A FORMER teacher and well respected member of a village community downloaded pornographic images of young children having sex with adults.
This week Christopher Score began a prison sentence after a judge told him: "There was a difference between your public face as an upstanding member of the community and what you were doing at night huddled over your computer."
The 54-year-old, of Water Street, Ribchester, was caught in Operation Shutdown, the Lancashire arm of the Ore inquiry instigated by the FBI who passed on details of credit cards used to access porn sites.
Preston Crown Court prosecutor Mark Stuart said police visited Score's home and his computer was seized. Experts found a total of 590 pornographic images of children which he had downloaded. Of those 26 were what are categorised as level four, next to the most serious there can be and of young children with adults in a variety of poses including sexual activity taking place, the court was told.
Score pleaded guilty to five specimen charges of making an indecent photograph of a child and one of possession of indecent photographs. He was jailed for six months, placed on the Sexual Offenders Register for 10 years and was banned from ever seeking any job likely to bring him into contact with children under 16.
Simon Newell, representing the former Stonyhurst College teacher, told the court that Score was regarded as an experienced professional, competent and well respected. He added: "He made a substantial contribution to the education of children in the North West."
For a time Score worked abroad in "less well-developed countries" and after returning to the UK began teaching again, working as well with the disabled and disadvantaged, explained Mr Newell. The defendant, he added, was also a member of the "Christian community".
He had accessed what he believed would be sites showing naked girls under 16, but did not want images of them involved in sexual activities. However, in accessing those sites, images of the more serious levels also appeared.
Mr Newell said Score had immediately "felt annoyed at himself for doing it". He had no intention of ever returning to teaching.
The defence called Fr John Francis, said in court to be a rector of a church in Lancashire, to provide a character reference.
Fr Francis said people in the community were shocked when they learned of the arrest of such a well-respected man who was in the "heart of the village". However many people planned to stand by him.
Judge Pamela Badley said Score had to go to prison because of the nature of the most serious images he had downloaded. "There were disturbing and revolting images, you did not make them, but they are images of real children, some being abused and you, for your gratification, were taking pleasure in that abuse", the judge added.
Score was head of modern languages at Stonyhurst College between 1987 and 1993.
Detective Chief Inspector Tony Ronnar said Score's sentencing sent a clear message to everyone that this type of behaviour would not be tolerated by the criminal justice system.
He said: "Many people are of the belief that investigations of this kind are dealing with pornography, which is simply not the case. What we are dealing with here is child abuse of the worst kind and even though these people are not physically abusing children, they are feeding off terrible crimes.
"People should be aware that even if the actual abuse takes place overseas, the fact that they view this material in the UK means they can - and will - be prosecuted here."