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Former Highgate headmaster spared jail for child pornography charges

PUBLISHED: 10:46 21 January 2011 | UPDATED: 13:04 21 January 2011

A FORMER headmaster of Highgate junior school who has been convicted of downloading sickening images of children as young as three has been spared prison.

A FORMER headmaster of Highgate junior school who has been convicted of downloading sickening images of children as young as three has been spared prison.

Hugh Simon Evers was the respected head of the private school, which teaches children aged seven to 11, for a decade between 1992 and 2002.

But his teaching reputation was plunged into disgrace last year when police found almost 400 pornographic images of underage teenagers and children on his home computer.

One of the most disturbing pictures showed a seven-year-old girl, while others depicted youngsters aged just three and four.

Evers pleaded guilty to six counts of making and possessing indecent images of children at Chichester Magistrates’ Court in December.

And this week the 62-year-old was given a 30-week suspended jail term.

Sentencing at Chichester Crown Court on Monday, Judge William Wood QC said he did not believe a man of Evers “education and intelligence” would be likely to offend again.

“Like anyone who has climbed high in a well-respected profession you have many good qualities which stand you in good stead, and result in my having to read the good reports from what people think of the way you have conducted your life, the benefit you have given to your society in various ways as a parent, and husband, and in the course of your profession.

He continued: “While there were a large number of graphic indecent images that are shocking to the public and this court, I accept that you would never have behaved indecently with any child in your care.

“What has tragically happened is that you have developed this sexual interest in children.”

But Judge Wood told Evers he thought it was necessary to give him a prison sentence because of the abuse suffered by the children in the downloaded photographs.

He said: “There are as you know real victims among those children – the children who are being abused in the photos. And they would not be victims if men like you did not download and view these images.

“In all these circumstances I feel it is necessary to mark what you have done with a prison sentence.”

Evers retired from teaching when he left Highgate in 2002 and moved to Eastbourne.

He continued to work at another prep school in the seaside Sussex town on a voluntary basis, while volunteering at the local Citizens Advice Bureau and sitting on the BBC’s Audience Council which monitors broadcasting standards.

But his retirement was destroyed last year when an engineer who was called in to fix his computer found pornographic images of children on his hard-drive and reported him to the police.

When the shamed teacher was arrested on February 11, 2010, he claimed that he was unaware the pictures were unlawful because they were mainly of teenage girls, adding: “The images were nothing but of an artistic nature.”

Sussex police found that between January 2007 and April last year Evers, who has no previous convictions, had downloaded 353 level one images – considered to be the least serious.

But he had also saved two stills and four video clips classified as level four, which is just one short of the worst category for such images.

Evers, of Meads Street, Eastbourne, was sentenced to 30 weeks imprisonment suspended for 20 months with conditions.

These included a 12-month supervision order and a ban from working with children.

In addition, he was placed on the sexual offenders register and told to pay £425 in court costs.

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