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Child Porn: Special Needs Teacher Spared Jail

Date: November 25, 2004
By: Charlie Hamilton

A special needs teacher was today spared jail despite admitting downloading more than 2,500 indecent images of children.

Ralph Bell, 38, of Bankhall Road, Stockport, Greater Manchester, pleaded guilty to 20 child porn offences, the city’s magistrates’ court was told.

Bell, who worked as a teacher with vulnerable youngsters at Irwell Park High School in Salford, was given a three-year community rehabilitation order.

He pleaded guilty to 17 counts of making indecent photos or pseudo-photos of a child and three counts of possession of indecent photos or pseudo-photos of a child.

Secondary school teacher Bell was found to have hoarded around 2,700 indecent images of youngsters aged 11 to 15.

He was ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for five years.

Outlining the case for the prosecution, John Upchurch said police had raided his home on May 4 and seized a computer, discs and printed pictures.

He said 80% of the indecent images were found to be level one indecency – the least serious level – while 20% were judged to be level two.

He added: “He was interviewed by police and admitted responsibility for downloading these images and possession of these images.

“He was, at the time, a teacher at a school for vulnerable children aged 11 to 16.”

Bell lost his job following the raid and has since begun working with adults at a local voluntary group.

Greater Manchester police swooped on Bell as part of Operation Baglan – a crackdown on child pornography in the region.

Detectives from the force’s special public protection unit staged a long-running, undercover operation to track down child porn abusers, resulting in the arrest of 48 people in July 2004.

Detective Superintendent Steve Heywood, who led the operation, said in light of Bell’s role as a secondary school teacher, the raid on his house was brought forward.

He said: “When we began gathering intelligence for Operation Baglan, the protection of children was of utmost importance.

In the case of Ralph Bell, we felt that, given his profession, we could not afford to allow him to remain in that position, so he was arrested prior to the raids being carried out.

“Thankfully, there is no evidence to show he exploited his job to abuse young children.”

A sexual offences prevention order was also made, banning him from contacting boys under the age of 16 via the internet for five years or from working in a voluntary capacity with boys aged under 16.
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2004-12-10 22:41:19 - Sadly, it is not uncommon for these types... Grant Sparks
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