Manchester Teacher Escapes Jail Over Child Porn Charges

A teacher at a Manchester primary school who downloaded thousands of images of child sex abuse has escaped jail after telling a court it was a source of 'comfort' after being abused himself.

39 year old Matthew Scott Catherall had been downloading child porn since his teenage years after being sexually molested by a family member when he was a boy, Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, heard.

Catherall was described as an 'inspirational and well liked' teacher at Greswell Primary in Denton. He has now been sacked after admitting 18 specimen charges of possessing child pornography at an earlier hearing.

He has been ordered to complete a three-year internet sexual offending treatment programme, barred from using the internet in private and ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for five years.

Passing sentence, Judge Jonathan Geake said:

'To any normal person these pictures are quite extraordinarily and deeply unpleasant. In my judgment your reasons for doing this were very complex and highly unusual.

'You carried on accessing the indecent images to prove to yourself you were not alone and it provided you with some sense of calm and closure.'

'This is a case that merits treatment rather than custodial punishment.'

The sexual abuse images were among 88 photos on the defendant's laptop, seized from his home in Denton after a police raid on March 4. They included images up to the worst level of child sexual abuse, the court heard.

None of the images of child abuse involved children from any schools Catherall worked with or of children he had contact with, the court heard.

Catherall is originally from the Mormon community in Utah in the US and came to the UK in 2005 on a teacher exchange programme. While here he met his second wife, Beverley, who was in the public gallery in court, and he has been a teacher in the UK since 2007.

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