Fife school IT technician admits having child abuse images

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An IT technician at a Fife school who downloaded sick child abuse images on to a school laptop has received a community payback order.

Andrew Sutton worked at St Leonards school in St Andrews.

He was arrested when police were handed “confidential information” that a computer at his house had accessed indecent images of children.

Illegal pictures were later found on a school owned Apple Mac laptop.

Fiscal depute Charmaine Gilmartin told Dundee Sheriff Court: “He worked as an IT engineer at a school and held a child PVG (disclosure certificate).’’

Last March, cyber crime officers received confidential information that devices at his address contained indecent images of children.

Added the fiscal depute: “A search warrant was granted and police attended his homet.

“Nobody was present so they attended the accused’s workplace.

“He co-operated with officers and returned with them to his home.

“Two laptops were recovered and a forensic analysis of one of then found it contained indecent images of children.

“File sharing software had been used to download two files indicative of indecent images.

“A number of downloaded files had names indicative of indecent content though they were no longer accessible.

“There were seven images at category A, two at category B and 29 at category C.

“There was also one category A video and one video at category C.

“It is not known when the files were downloaded and deleted, and the dates of the charge are a range from when the laptop was manufactured and the date of the search.”

Sutton, 59, of St Michaels Drive, Cupar, pleaded guilty on indictment to taking or making indecent images of children by downloading them at his home address between February 1 2011 and March 2 2017.

Defence solicitor Douglas Williams said: “He is no longer employed by the school and in fact effectively resigned his post to save further embarrassment for the school authorities.”

Sheriff Lorna Drummond QC imposed a community payback order with 240 hours unpaid work, 18 months supervision and conduct requirements around his contact with children.

She said: “It is obviously a serious matter to these images.

“Taking into account all the circumstances I’m persuaded I can deal with your case in line with the High Court case law and impose a community payback order as a direct alternative to custody.”

Sutton will also be on the sex offenders register for 18 months.

A spokeperson for St Leonards School said they were ”appalled by his behaviour.’’

They added: ““His PVG check was last reviewed four months prior to his arrest. In his role, he did not work directly with children.

“Following his arrest and an internal investigation, Mr Sutton was immediately suspended. The school cooperated fully with the Police Scotland Cyber Crime Unit who confirmed that none of his offences related to the school.

“The safety and wellbeing of our students is paramount and we continue to enforce robust safeguarding measures to ensure all appointed employees are entirely suitable.”