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Teacher put pupils faces on porn pics

PUBLISHED: 23:26 10 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:54 02 March 2010

A FORMER maths and IT teacher, who had a "long-standing obsession with young girls" and superimposed photographs of his pupils onto child pornography, has been jailed for six years.

A FORMER maths and IT teacher, who had a "long-standing obsession with young girls" and superimposed photographs of his pupils onto child pornography, has been jailed for six years.

In a case described as "unique", Michael Higgins was also banned yesterday from owning or using a camera or a computer with internet access.

The shamed teacher, who taught at Rosemary Musker High School in Thetford, had previously admitted eight counts of making indecent images of children under the age of 18 between September 2002 and September 2004.

Higgins had also pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to eight charges of creating pseudo-images of children under the age of 18 between December 2003 and January 2005.

A further charge of distributing pseudo-images of a child under the age of 16 between December 2004 and January 2005 was also admitted.

Robert Sadd, prosecuting, told Ipswich Crown Court that Higgins had become the "unofficial school photographer", which allowed him access to pictures of his pupils.

But the 55-year-old, of The Street, Wattisfield, near Diss, then used his computer to cut and paste the heads of students onto child porn pictures downloaded from the internet.

In some cases Higgins would also superimpose his head onto a male in the picture – making it appear as though he was involved in explicit acts with the pupils.

Mr Sadd added Higgins would sometimes write a story to go with the pictures and was in the process of creating a website, sorted by student name, featuring his creations and "lurid claims" about the pupils – although the site never went live and was not intended to.

Upon his arrest, police found 11,122 untampered indecent images, some featuring children as young as three, and 4,752 pseudo-images – a total of 15,874, although most were at level one, the least serious on the scale.

Mr Sadd said: "One hundred and 32 pupils and ex-pupils have been identified as being subject to his activities.

"This is plainly a case which is unique. Such a level of organisation would have taken some time, and it's the case that this would have taken over his life to some extent."

Simon Spence, mitigating, said the situation could almost be likened to an "addiction", but he stressed that Higgins had never, or would never, allow his obsession to cross the line into the realms of physical abuse.

"There is no hint of any criticism about his behaviour in school or as a teacher," he added.

Mr Spence said Higgins recognised that he had a problem that needed addressing and would not commit further offences in the future.

"This is a man who clearly feels total shame and remorse at what he has done. He is devastated, particularly by the fact that those pupils whose images he used now know they were used in that way," he added.

Sentencing Higgins to concurrent sentences of six years for each charge, Judge John Devaux said the case was a "serious example of its kind".

He added: "I do consider that you present a continued risk given your long-standing obsession with young girls."

Higgins, who showed no emotion as he was jailed, was also told that he would have to sign the sex offenders' register for the rest of his life, and an order was made for the destruction of all the items involved in his crimes.

After the hearing, as some of his victims broke down in tears, one mother said: "We're pleased with the result, but we're disgusted that this could have been allowed to happen.

"We don't accept his apology in any way. It was insincere. The matter is not totally closed and it's always going to be there. If I could speak to him, I'd tell him to rot in hell."


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