Former private school teacher jailed for making indecent images of children – The Guardian

A former teacher has been jailed after admitting making indecent images of scores of children using hidden cameras at a boarding school, behaviour the judge called his “fatal flaw”.

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 the £11,000-a-term 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 Thomson-Glover he was a man “looking at a life that is now in ruins”. He said: “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.

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 interviews, 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.

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.”

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,” 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,” Langdon added.