A male IT teacher encouraged pupils to send him indecent images and downloaded their own intimate photos after offering to help fix their phones, a court heard.
The Cardiff teacher told the teenage female pupils that he knew people in the modelling world and promised “a lot of money” if they provided indecent images.
During his offending over four years he also downloaded hundreds of images of other pupils, many they had taken themselves, from their phones or cloud services after promising to repair their devices. Some of the girls were aged just 14 or 15 at the time.
On Friday Newport Crown Court heard the affected pupils said the offending has “crushed” their confidence and made them “untrusting” of others.
Summarising a number of victim impact statements provided prosecutor John Ryan said: “[His] offending has crushed bubbly personalities, crushed confidence, made trusting people untrusting of others. It has caused low moods, sadness and tears, and has caused nightmares.
“It has caused the victims to become insular. Some feel lonely due to distrust and distancing themselves. They feel ashamed and may need counselling which is problematic because of the ongoing pandemic.”
He added that one victim has become “paranoid” and “prone to panicking” and as a result CCTV had to be installed at her home.
Mr Ryan said: “[One victim’s] self-harming increased around the court date and her suicidal thoughts increased.”
The male teacher previously pleaded guilty to 19 counts on the day his trial was due to start at Cardiff Crown Court.
On Friday the former teacher was sentenced to six years and three months in jail.
The court heard he offered to help fix pupils’ phones or help them with cloud services and once gaining access he would download indecent images they had taken themselves.
The court heard the teacher told some pupils he was a former boxer involved in “illegal” fights and he could “hurt people”.
Mr Ryan told the court that the teacher made two pupils send him a number of indecent images of themselves and set up fake email addresses that he said were connected to websites where they could make money.
After his arrest in January 2019 officers found more than 4,000 indecent images on his various devices. They included 93 category A images and six movies, 72 category B images and two movies, and 4,431 category C images and 48 movies.
His offending came to light after one pupil contacted Childline, who then alerted South Wales Police.
Judge Daniel Williams said: “You carefully cultivated an image of yourself. Pupils saw you as good fun and approachable. Some saw you as a friend and liked your informality.”
He added: “You groomed [one of the victims]. You knew that she was experiencing personal problems and having gained her trust you suggested that she send you intimate images with which you could start a website.
“She said no but you persisted. She got so low that she felt suicidal. You said to this girl that she owed you something for the support which you pretended that you were providing.”
Judge Williams said the teacher had a “sexual interest” in young girls. He said: “It is deep-rooted and your implacable arrogance means that you feel no need to change.
“The agony of those unnamed children in the images you viewed can only be imagined. The effects upon your other victims is more easily identified and is very real.”
Andrew Taylor, defending, said his client was “ashamed” and apologised for his actions. Mr Taylor said the teacher’s offending moved to “highly dangerous territory from which he could not retreat”.
But Judge Williams said: “If you are truly burdened by your guilt then you wear it very lightly.”
The 40-year-old faced charges including possession of indecent photographs and causing or inciting sexual exploitation of a child.
His trial was due to start on November 9 and was expected to last for around two weeks before he entered his guilty pleas.
The defendant pleaded guilty to several charges including three of possession of indecent photographs of a child.
He also pleaded guilty to two charges of causing or inciting sexual exploitation of a child. The particulars of the offences are that he incited two females under the age of 18 to be sexually exploited by taking and sending nude images over the internet.
He also faced 14 charges of securing unauthorised access to computer material with intent, namely possession of indecent images.
All of the charges relate to offences that took place over a five-year period.
Judge Williams handed him a total jail term of six years and three months, barred him from teaching and working with children for life, and made him subject of a sexual harm prevention order for life.
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After the case Ann Haile of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: “Instead of protecting children against the dangers of exploitation this individual used his position of trust to do the opposite, preying on their vulnerabilities for his own satisfaction.
“While we hope today’s sentence helps those affected to move on with their lives, knowing that the offender has been brought to justice, we also hope this serves as a reminder that the images and data on electronic devices are never completely private but will be used to secure justice if necessary.”
The male teacher has not been named to avoid identifying the pupils who are granted lifelong anonymity as victims of sexual offences.