The former deputy headmaster of a Catholic primary school has pleaded guilty to receiving and saving 697 indecent images of young boys.
Anthony Hassall, 35, was deputy head at St Joseph’s Primary School in Winsford, when he was receiving and saving the images at his home on two computers.
Chester Crown Court heard that Hassall, of Nelson Street, Crewe, went on chat sites, pretending to be a younger man interested in sex with boys under 10s.
The court heard that Cheshire Police received intelligence from another law enforcement agency that had detected Hassall engaging in conversations on Skype about sex with young boys
Officers from the Paedophile Cyber Investigation team visited the school and arrested Hassall, who was teaching at the time.
Hassall’s home was also searched and items were sent to the Police High Tech Crime Unit.
The defendant was silent in interview following his arrest but later made a full confession to engaging in paedophile discussions and receiving images of young children.
He was given a community order for three years, ordered to take part in a sex offenders’ programme and his address and activities will be monitored by the police for next five years.
A sexual harm prevention order was also issued which restricts his use of the internet. He is also automatically barred from working with children. His computers were also seized and destroyed.
Mike Stephenson, district Crown prosecutor for Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Anthony Hassall had a responsible job as a deputy headmaster in a primary school and held a position of trust.
“However, in his spare time he was posing as a much younger man and engaging in conversations about sex with young boys and receiving and saving indecent images.
“The internet appears to provide the screen of anonymity for such activities, but law enforcement scrutinise it intensely and when criminal activity of this sort is uncovered, the trail back to the offenders provides compelling evidence.”
A spokesman for the Diocese of Shrewsbury confirmed Mr Hassall was no longer employed by St Joseph’s and reassured parents that none of the victims had attended the primary school.
He said in a statement: “The diocesan school acted swiftly to establish that the allegations against Mr Hassall bore no relation to his professional position. In addition, the school took the necessary measures to ensure the safety of all the pupils at St Joseph’s. The school and the Diocese have cooperated with the police at every stage of the investigation.”