Teaching assistant had 10,000 child abuse images on his computer

Joseph Wharton

A former teaching assistant has been jailed for two years after police found a “revolting” child-abuse image stash at his home

Computer boff Joseph Edward Wharton, 32, was arrested after police searched a property in East Ayton and seized computer equipment on which he had stored thousands of indecent images of children.

Forensic analysis of a computer tower and hard drives revealed that Wharton had kept a “library” of indecent images and move clips involving children as young as two, York Crown Court heard.

He also used special file-sharing equipment to make the debauched images available to other paedophiles, said prosecutor Laura Addy.

Wharton, an internet-computing graduate, appeared for sentence on Thursday after pleading guilty to five counts of possessing indecent images of children and three of possession with a view to distribution.

Ms Addy said police found a total of 9,921 indecent images on Wharton’s computer devices. He had downloaded the material over a 12-month period from February 2016.

The sordid shots included Category A images - the most serious type - involving children aged between two and four.

Ms Addy said although the prosecution couldn’t be sure to what extent Wharton had distributed the debauched images, the potential was there for others to view the photos and videos through file-sharing software.

Wharton - now of Westwood Gardens, Scarborough - had got hooked on internet child abuse while teaching in local schools as a part-time supply teacher. He had been teaching for four years and went on to work for a computer firm, but lost this job following his arrest.

David Camidge, for Wharton, said his client had no previous convictions and had since taken steps to combat his porn addiction.

He said Wharton had himself been the victim of a serious crime when he was a child.

Judge Paul Batty QC branded Wharton’s massive child abuse collection “revolting”, adding: “You told a probation officer you had an interest in young girls and that is perfectly obvious from what you searched.

“But what is also an extremely troubling aspect of the case is your background. You worked in nine separate schools as a part-time supply teacher. In one of the schools you were working with children with real, physical disabilities.”

Wharton was jailed for two years and ordered to sign on the sex-offenders’ register for 10 years. He was also made the subject of a 10-year sexual-harm prevention order and banned from working with children indefinitely.

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