Child porn shame teacher caught by US officers

A SCHOOL teacher from South Elmsall pretended to be a woman in an internet chatroom before discussing sexual assaults and attacks upon young children.

John Hardcastle, 52, was arrested after West Yorkshire Police received a tip-off from officers in the USA about his behaviour and seized computers at his home on Palmers Avenue.

Investigators then discovered indecent images of children and “extreme” pornography.

Prosecutor Tony Kellbrick told Leeds Crown Court the offences came to light when police in Texas began investigating a man in the US state who had been in contact with someone in England who used the name Wendy. Conversations between the two involved talking about the sexual abuse of children.

West Yorkshire Police were informed and were able to identify Hardcastle as the man posing as Wendy. Officers then seized his computers and discovered the images. They involved girls aged between 12 and 14.

Hardcastle, who worked as a teacher at Primrose High School, in Burmantofts, Leeds, pleaded guilty to three counts in relation to possessing indecent images of children and one of possessing extreme pornography.

Mr Kellbrick said: “The defendant is a man in his fifties. He has no previous convictions. He was a headmaster of a school but is no longer.”

Mitigating, Andrew Walker said the images were at level one - the least serious kind - and were on his computer as a result of a malfunction. He said the images had been sent to him from the man in the USA. Mr Walker said the case had had a devastating impact upon his family.

Sentencing Hardcastle to a three-year community supervision order, Judge Christopher Batty told Hardcastle: “It is a very sad day for you today. You do not need me to tell you why.

“Happily the images are such that they do not lead to an immediate custodial sentence when looking at the guidelines for offending of this sort.

“This is just the sort of offending that will place a strain on your home life and you are taking steps to ensure nothing like this will happen again.”

Hardcastle was also ordered to go on a sex offender programme, placed on the sex offenders’ register for five years and banned from working with children.