A 31-year-old teacher ‘threw away his career’ and suffered a ‘huge fall from grace’ by sending indecent videos of children to another person on social media, a judge said yesterday (Nov 29).
At Gloucester Crown Court Judge Michael Cullum told Michael Bright, formerly of Dursley, but now of Berkley Crescent, Uphill, Weston-super-Mare, that he “chose to distribute indecent images of young children on one single occasion and as a result you threw away career, you threw away your family and you threw away your future prospects of remaining a professional teacher.
“That is a huge fall from grace. This transgression however was a one off, but it is a very serious offence.”
Prosecutor Nicola Wood said that Bright had an account in a girl’s name on the Kik Interactive website.
“Information received by the National Crime Agency stated that the account holder had sent indecent images to another Kik user and that account had been traced to Bright’s home address in Dursley, ” she said.
“Gloucestershire Police executed a warrant at his home address at 6am on July 16 and he was arrested on suspicion of distributing indecent images – mostly girls aged nine to 14.
“In interview, he explained that he had originally viewed the videos and after getting involved in a Kik messenger exchange with another who had become interested in the videos he went back and found these images and shared them with this other user and then deleted the images from his own device.”
Matthew Harbinson, defending said that as soon as Bright was arrested he sought help from ‘Stop It Now’, an organisation that aims to prevent child sex abuse.
“He began by viewing legal adult pornography, which he has done for a prolonged length of time, possibly due to the lack of intimacy in his marriage,” said Mr Harbinson.
“He joined the Kik network platform for a bespoke exchange of information connected with adult pornography. He has downloaded some 130,000 files of adult pornography and only four of these, which he deleted at the time, contained illegal videos of children.
“He had conversations with like-minded people in the group on that platform and he was invited to share the content he had recently viewed.
“He downloaded the four images of illegal material and sent them on. This is the total level of his criminality.
“He was employed until the day he pleaded guilty at the lower court earlier this month having been a teacher for five years.”
“Judge Cullum observed: “Bright has completely lost his chosen career now.”
Mr Harbinson: “He realises he can never be employed in this area ever again. He has lost his wife, he has lost his children, he has lost his job and his good character, he has lost his financial stability and he has left his family facing a huge stigma over this.
“He has lost everything as a result of responding to that one request. He was a professional at work and there were never any problems with him at his workplace.”
Bright pleaded guilty to a charge that between January 1st-4th 2021 he distributed two indecent Category A images of a child, another of Category B and one Category C.
Judge Cullum said: “I accept you have admitted what you have done and have since embarked on a course of therapy though ‘Stop It Now. ‘
“You had videos of a girl penetrating herself. This is a child which is being abused for your sexual gratification and you past on these images to another person. These are real children somewhere in the world whose lives will never be the same.
“I had difficulty in reading parts of the report about the content of these videos.
“The message has to go out that if anybody is involved in downloading and distributing images like this they will be spending time in prison.
“As a teacher I find your position difficult to understand. You began by viewing and downloading legal adult pornography, but you went down to this level when asked to by a fellow account holder.
“I have had a number of references stating that this is totally out of character and I believe from other reports that I’ve read there is a very real prospect of rehabilitation.”
Bright was sentenced to 16 months jail suspended for two years and ordered to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work and attend 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days.
Bright was also placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years and given a sexual harm prevention order limiting his use of the internet. He was also barred from working with children under the age of 16 and ordered to pay court costs of £425 and a victim surcharge.