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Friday, 11 February, 2000, 13:35 GMT
Head guilty of downloading child porn




A primary school head teacher who downloaded child pornography from the internet has been found guilty of possessing indecent pictures of children.

Robert Shepherd, 52, downloaded the pictures on to a school computer, as well as his own home computer.

The suspended head of Holy Trinity C of E School in Cuckfield, West Sussex, has also been convicted of misusing a school computer to access homosexual sex sites on the web.

The father-of-four had said in his defence that he accessed the gay porn sites as a "cry for help" over having been raped as a young man.

He refused to comment after the two-day trial. Magistrates' Chairman Dr Martin White adjourned the case until 14 March, pending psychological reports on Shepherd, who now faces being placed on the sex offenders' register.

On Friday, the court heard from defence witness Dr Leo Stimmler, a fellow of the Royal College of Paediatricians, that it was not possible to be sure that images taken from Shepherd's home computer and from a school lap-top computer were of boys under the age of 16.

But in a report written before the hearing, Dr Stimmler said that he estimated the average age of some of the boys in the pictures was 14.4 years.

Trigger words

During the trial, the court heard how Shepherd had been raped in Paris when he was 18, and how he had been abused as a child.

Shepherd had admitted searching for gay porn on the school computer, but always denied having specifically hunted for child porn.

References to the porn were discovered in November 1998 by the school's information technology co-ordinator, and reported to the police.

Shepherd said he thought the images retrieved by police computer experts showed "young males" who he presumed were 18 years and over.

But detectives discovered that Shepherd had used trigger words in his searches including "rent boy", "naked boy" and "teen boy".

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