Page last updated at 12:22 GMT, Friday, 27 February 2009

Police hunt 'radioactive' teacher

Scotland Yard
Mr Leopold is not in contact with other people, his lawyer says

Police are hunting a "dangerously radioactive" London college principal who skipped bail shortly before facing trial on child pornography charges.

"Chronically ill" Thomas Leopold, 42, head of a tutorial college in Harrow, Middlesex, was given large doses of radiation for a thyroid condition.

He then drove on to a ferry heading for Rosslare in County Wexford, Irish Republic, and has not been seen since.

Mr Leopold faces five charges of allegedly downloading illegal images.

His doctor confirmed he is dangerous, in terms of radioactivity, for a period of six weeks after treatment
Jeannie Mackay, defending

Jeannie Mackay, defending, said her client, who was in "chronic poor health", was on his own and "wasn't in contact with others".

She told Southwark Crown Court: "His doctor confirmed he is dangerous, in terms of radioactivity, for a period of six weeks after treatment."

Judge John Price, who issued a warrant for his arrest, said: "Please warn officers that when he is arrested he might be radioactive. This is not a joke."

He accused Mr Leopold of "doing everything to make it as difficult as he can to let the trial go ahead".

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "We would appeal for anyone who knows his whereabouts to contact police."

Radiation card

Mr Leopold, a former banker from Hammersmith, west London, faces five charges of making and possessing child pornography after downloading a library of the forbidden material in 2006.

Nick Mather, prosecuting, explained the defendant's trial was eventually rescheduled for 9 February this year.

But four days before the hearing he drove on to a ferry at Fishguard, South Wales.

Although stopped and questioned by Special Branch officers at the time, they released him after he showed them his radiation card and insisted his bail conditions had been changed so he could visit his mother in Ireland.

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