Former teacher of a Dorchester school denies child porn charges

First published in News Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

A FORMER teacher at the Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester has appeared in court on charges of downloading child pornography.

Patrick Jenkins, 32, denies 21 counts of making indecent images of children.

The offences are alleged to have taken place between October 23, 2007 and May 19, 2010, while Jenkins, of Thornhill Close, Dorchester, was a chemistry teacher at the school.

None of the charges relate to any children at the school.

In an opening statement, prosecutor Rufus Taylor told Dorchester Crown Court that experts found traces of 1,275 indecent images of children, at levels one to five, five being the most severe, on two computers seized when Jenkins was arrested on May 19, 2010.

He said: “It was done quite deliberately. The Crown submits that you do not do this by accident.”

Mr Taylor added that further evidence was discovered to suggest Jenkins had taken steps to wipe the internet browsing history on the computers.

“It is apparent from further examination that he is computer savvy, and a sophisticated computer user. He used two programmes that wipe the history.”

Detective Constable Tim O’Leary, of the high tech crime unit of Dorset Police told the court he found traces of indecent images in three locations on the computers when he examined the devices.

Both computers, he told the court, had been used ‘repeatedly’ to access indecent pictures of children.

He said: “I found no live indecent pictures of children in the folders, but it was apparent that searches had been made via the internet and it is my belief that full material had been viewed on both computers and, following viewing sessions, methods had been employed to hide activity by deleting files or erasing the internet history.”

Traces of the images remained, DC O’Leary added, in hidden files on the hard drive because they were in existence during an anti-virus scan, and records of files that had been scanned remained.

He told the jury that an examination of the hard drive also revealed there had been access to a website which ‘details exclusively in how to access indecent images of children and gives advice on how to avoid detection’.

In cross-examination, Robin Shellard representing the defendant asked if the computers had been password protected, and if it was possible for the machines to be accessed by other users remotely.

DC O’Leary said: “They were not password protected, but I found no remnant of software on either computer that would allow remote access, so without that there, in my opinion, you could not access that computer remotely.

“But there could have been something there previously that has been erased.”

The trial continues.

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