Saturday 24 March 2018

Ex-teacher jailed over filming pupils at boarding school

Clifton College in Bristol Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire
Clifton College in Bristol Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Claire Hayhurst

A former teacher has been jailed after admitting making indecent images of scores of children using hidden cameras at a boarding school and another property.

Jonathan Thomson-Glover, 53, who taught at Clifton College in Bristol, pleaded guilty to 36 counts of making, taking and possessing indecent images of children.

Thomson-Glover, of Wadebridge, Cornwall, was jailed for three years and nine months by Judge David Ticehurst at Taunton Crown Court.

The charges relate to more than 120 victims filmed by hidden cameras at Clifton College and an address in Cornwall over a 16-year period.

Thomson-Glover admitted 27 charges of taking an indecent image of a child; seven charges of making an indecent image of a child and two charges of possessing indecent images of children.

He was charged following a joint investigation between Avon and Somerset Police and Devon and Cornwall Police.

The judge told him: "You are a man looking at a life that is now in ruins.

"That life was a good life and you have made a positive contribution.

"It is a life now reduced to rubble as a result of your fatal flaw.

"You are the author of your own misfortune and there can be little sympathy for you.

"It is impossible to calculate the harm and damage you may have caused to those who trusted you or were in your care."

Thomson-Glover remained emotionless as he was led from the dock.

He was ordered to sign the Sex Offenders' Register indefinitely and banned from working with children on his release.

Detective Inspector Andrea Kingdon, of Avon and Somerset Police, branded Thomson-Glover a "manipulative and devious sexual offender".

"Jonathan Thomson-Glover has been jailed for offences of making, taking and possessing indecent images," she said.

"These offences included covert filming and the downloading of indecent images of children from the internet.

"We've been committed to doing everything we can to identify all those in the covert footage who were directly affected by Thomson-Glover's offending but it's been a challenging, painstaking and time-intensive process.

"More than 130 victims have been identified during the course of this investigation.

"None of the charges brought in this case relate to contact offences and there is no evidence to suggest the images or footage have been distributed to anyone else or uploaded onto the internet.

"These crimes amounted to an abhorrent abuse of trust and a gross invasion of privacy.

"During police interviews, Thomson-Glover described his activities as 'compulsive'.

"It's clear he has been prolific in his criminal activity and has demonstrated a meticulous approach in his planning and cataloguing processes.

"Although the footage was recorded onto VHS tapes, there is a clear suggestion he may have used pinhole or spy cameras during the later stages of his offending.

"He's proved himself to be a manipulative and devious sexual offender who had the ability to keep his compulsion a secret from everyone around him.

"We've taken great care to approach victims in the right way and provide any help, advice or support they've needed, either through our specially trained officers, our Lighthouse service set-up to offer bespoke help to vulnerable victims of crime, or from external and independent charities or organisations.

"We've been working closely with the College and its management team and they've been extremely supportive of our investigation.

"We're also grateful for the support we've received from all our partners, including the National Crime Agency and Crown Prosecution Service."

Howard Phillips, senior crown prosecutor from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Jonathan Thomson-Glover is an educated and intelligent man who exploited and manipulated his position for his own sexual gratification.

"He must have known he had paedophile tendencies when he accepted his appointment and he began his offending within a year of taking up his position.

"This case is unique due to the timespan of offences, the high number of victims and the gross breach of trust and invasion of privacy.

"The Crown Prosecution Service takes all cases of child sexual exploitation seriously and we're pleased that by working closely with Devon and Cornwall Police and Avon and Somerset Police, we've been able to bring this case to a swift conclusion today.

"I'd like to thank the victims in this case and their families for their ongoing support with the overall investigation and court proceedings.

"I hope the sentence passed today will bring some measure of closure to them and will act as a deterrent to others minded to act in a similar way."

The court heard Thomson-Glover first became part of the school at the age of six, as his father was working as a pastor there. He returned to teach at the school and was well regarded.

Prosecuting, Howard Phillips said: "To pupils, many describe him as being more a friend than a teacher

"He was a man who had a relaxed attitude and allowed his pupils to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol and engage in sexual relations on the school premises.

"The parents regarded him as the consummate professional, he appeared very caring, achieved good exam results and went above and beyond. But the reality was somewhat different."

Thomson-Glover was arrested in August 2014 after the National Crime Agency discovered his IP address had been used to download indecent images of children.

Officers seized four computers, discs and a number of Hi-8 camcorder tapes, with 330 VHS video tapes from three address they searched.

Thomson-Glover was arrested but chose to make no comment.

Police discovered that he had been downloading thousands of indecent images of children, using search terms such as "pre-teen boys".

Analysis of the tapes revealed 2,500 hours - equal to 104 days - of footage taken at Clifton College and an address in Cornwall, relating to more than 120 victims.

The footage had been taken on hidden cameras placed at various locations around the two sites, and in a camera carried around in a bag with a hole in it.

It included pupils engaging in sexual activity, using the bathroom and showering and taking part in private sexual acts.

In further interview, Thomson-Glover admitted the offences, telling police: "It was a compulsion and was fuelled by the internet".

The court heard there is no evidence the footage was shared or that Thomson-Glover behaved "improperly" to any child.

Representing Thomson-Glover, Andrew Langdon QC said his client was remorseful and wanted to seek forgiveness.

Mr Langdon said the footage was never shared and the majority of it was never watched, with pupils filmed engaging in sexual acts aged 16 or 17 at the time.

"He had repressed feelings of homosexuality as a teenager. Growing up in the 1960s and 70s attitudes to homosexuals then were quite different."

Mr Langdon said his client had been in relationships with women but this drove him to breakdowns and to attempt suicide.

He later joined the school as a teacher and installed the hidden cameras after viewing images online.

"It led to a schizophrenic existence," Mr Langdon said. "On one hand he was successful. On the other hand, he had a secret addiction.

"It is too simplistic to say that the good he has done was merely in aid of facilitating the bad."

Some parents whose children were filmed wrote letters to the judge on Thomson-Glover's behalf, after meeting him following his arrest.

"I met a man who was deeply sorry and contrite," one mother wrote.

The court heard Thomson-Glover's mother has suffered two strokes since his arrest, while his father has also become unwell.

"He never intended suffering by others," Mr Langdon added.

Press Association

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