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Camden Catholic friar escapes prison despite possessing thousands of child abuse images

PUBLISHED: 12:51 31 March 2014 | UPDATED: 11:21 01 April 2014

Timothy Gardner. Picture: Central News

Timothy Gardner. Picture: Central News

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A Catholic friar found in possession of more than 5,000 prohibited images of children has escaped prison.

Timothy Gardner, 42, who was based at St Dominic’s Priory in Southampton Road, Gospel Oak, was given a sentence of eight months, suspended for two years, by a judge at Southwark Crown Court this morning.

Gardner taught religious education (RE) at Maria Fidelis Catholic School in Phoenix Road, Somers Town, for six years from 2006 to 2012, and was described as being a “senior figure” in Catholic education by Camden Council.

He was found by police in possession of 5,005 pictures in August.

Some were graded level four and five, the most extreme categories, which included bestiality involving a child as young as nine.

Gardner will be subject to two years of supervision by a probation officer and ordered to take part in an internet sexual offending treatment programme.

But he will not spend time behind bars unless he commits a further offence.

The judge described Gardner’s behaviour as “shameful” but said the likelihood of him committing further offences was “very small indeed”.

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