DCSIMG

Ex-headteacher admits swapping child porn

A FORMER headteacher has admitted exchanging hundreds of child pornography images with other people via email over the course of a year.

Police found over 450 illegal pictures on a laptop computer seized from the home of Whitecraig Primary head Andrew Mark Melville after a tip-off sparked an investigation.

The 47-year-old, who was suspended by East Lothian Council following the allegations, had some of the most disturbing images known to police on a laptop in his loft.

The local authority has now sacked him following an internal investigation.

Most of the pictures, which he both received and sent through electronic messages, featured young girls between the ages of eight and 15-years-old.

Dad of three Melville admitted being in possession of indecent pictures of children at his home in Gullane at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today.

Melville, who ran the Musselburgh school from November 2007, also pleaded guilty to distributing or showing the pictures between June 13, 2004 and May 30, 2005.

Fiscal depute Siobhan Monks told the court heard how police had been given a warrant to search his Muirfield Station home after being tipped-off about the pictures.

On March 13 this year officers raided the house and seized two laptops, three computer units and a pen drive, as well as CDs.

Melville was interviewed and told all the information contained on the hardware would be examined.

Police asked him if there would be anything illegal but he replied: "Just the usual porn. Adult porn."

But when pressed further he admitted: "Maybe about four years ago, I was getting the odd child image which I deleted. In my line of work that's a no no."

The schoolmaster, who previously taught at Gullane Primary, had exchanged the pictures through email messages with people he met in America On Line (AOL) chat rooms.

It was also revealed that he had been expelled from the chat room following "inappropriate" conversations.

Miss Monks said: "The items were taken and examined and on March 18 investigating officers were made aware that indecent images had been found."

Officers searching the machines had discovered 457 sick images, of which Melville had sent 336 while being sent 121.

Miss Monks added: "There was no evidence of any internet searches, it was all through email."

Of the stash, two images were found to be of the most explicit on the scale used to measure depravity.

A further nine were of the next highest rating.

Miss Monks said: "The police stated that most of the images were young females between the age of eight and 15-years-old, the number of images of children under 12 is limited."

She said that most of the images were of children in provocative poses but some included adults having penetrative sex with young girls as well as other young females embracing.

He was arrested and appeared at Haddington Sheriff Court in March where he made no plea or declaration and was released on bail with special conditions.

And when he appeared at the capital's sheriff court today, his lawyer Colm Dempsey confirmed he had admitted the offences.

Sheriff Alistair Noble deferred sentence until January but put Melville on the sex offenders register before continuing his bail.

He has also been banned from using the internet or emails and is not allowed any unsupervised contact with children under 16 years old.

East Lothian Council has confirmed that he is no longer an employee.

A spokeswoman for the local authority confirmed he was dismissed on July 30 this year following a disciplinary hearing, a decision Melville has not appealed.

He was accompanied to court by his father-in-law and it is understood his wife is standing by him.

 
 
 

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