Child porn teacher jail term slashed

APPEAL Court judges today cut the "manifestly excessive" sentence of a former Suffolk physics teacher jailed for downloading child sex porn. Paul Sear, who taught at Stowupland High School, near Stowmarket, was caught after an investigation in the United States led police to his door, London's Court of Appeal heard.

APPEAL Court judges today cut the "manifestly excessive" sentence of a former Suffolk physics teacher jailed for downloading child sex porn.

 Paul Sear, who taught at Stowupland High School, near Stowmarket, was caught after an investigation in the United States led police to his door, London's Court of Appeal heard.

 His computer was found to contain 1,800 images of children, some of them duplicated, performing "a variety of sex acts," said Mr Justice McCombe, who was sitting with Judge Peter Beaumont.

 Sear, 49, of Burrell Road, Ipswich, pleaded guilty at Bury St. Edmunds Crown Court to one count of distributing an indecent photograph of a child and 20 counts of making indecent child sex photos.


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 All the offences happened between January, 2001 and May, 2002.

 He was sentenced on March 20 to 15 months in jail and given a three-year extended licence - a close supervision period which begins after release and during which time a prisoner can be locked up again if he puts a foot wrong.

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 But the Appeal Court judges reduced the prison term to ten months and the extended licence period to two years after hearing argument from Sear's lawyers.

 These included that insufficient weight had been given to his guilty plea and that the sentence was out of line with terms imposed for similar cases where defendants had denied the charges.

 Mr Justice McCombe said, although the images were not as many in number as the guideline case used to calculate his new sentence, they were "at the serious end of the scale when one has regard to the activities depicted."

 And, he added, the court endorsed the view of the sentencing judge that Sear had "an indirect responsibility for the abuse and corruption of the children depicted."

 Reports on Sear showed that he had understood this, but had minimised his guilt by blaming his crime on depression, stress at work, marital difficulties and financial problems, the judge said.

 Mr Justice McCombe added that Sear, who was of previous good character and had co-operated with police, was therefore judged by a psychiatrist to pose a medium risk of re-offending.

 Lawyers for Sear, who the court accepted had not distributed material for money, also successfully argued that there should be a corresponding reduction in the length of his extended licence.

 Mr Justice McCombe said the contents of the psychiatric report showed that an extended licence period was necessary, but reduced it from three years to two because of the cut in the jail term.

 An order made after his Crown Court hearing banning Sear from ever working with children again will remain in force, and he will still be on the Sex Offenders' register.

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