A teacher downloaded child abuse images while planning lessons for his primary school pupils, a court has heard today.
Michael Hardgrave, now retired, confessed to police following his arrest in June last year that he was "interested" in knowing how children looked when naked but denied being sexually attracted to them. However, search terms used by the 66-year-old included words such as "jailbait", "tiny lolita", and "schoolgirl princess" Maidstone Crown Court heard on June 30.
A total of 795 images across all three categories of seriousness were found on a laptop and hard drive, although the majority had been deleted. Hardgrave, from Sittingbourne admitted six offences of making and possessing indecent images of children. Prosecutor Alexander Williams told the court Hardgrave admitted when interviewed by police in February this year to watching child 'porn' but could not remember when that had started or the last occasion.
"He claimed in his work as a teacher, from which he was retired, he had a bad work-life balance,' said Mr Williams. "He would spend nights planning lessons for his primary school children the next day and would look at images of children being abused while doing his work."
"He became upset and said he didn't have children of his own and was interested in what they looked like naked." The court heard that Hardgrave was "remorseful, disgusted and ashamed" and had sought professional help since his arrest.
But although Judge Julian Smith said he was concerned the married pensioner had "struggled to acknowledge and accept" a sexual motivation, he added there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation. Hardgrave was given a six-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months, with 40 rehabilitation activity sessions.
He will be subject to a sexual harm prevention order and required to sign on the sex offender register, both for 10 years, and barred indefinitely from working with children.