School governors chairman found guilty on indecent images charge - police only found out after burglar broke in and then blackmailed him

The former chairman of governors of a school has been found guilty of a number of offences relating

The former chairman of governors of a school has been found guilty of a number of offences relating to indecent images of children. - Credit: Archant

The former chairman of governors of a school has been found guilty of a number of offences relating to indecent images of children.

Andrew Brown, 61, claimed a man who burgled his house placed the images on devices he had stolen in order to blackmail him.

On October 24, 2015, Brown and his wife left their family home in Park Road, Peterborough, at about 10.15am. On their return at about 1.15pm they discovered their home had been broken into and three USB memory sticks, a laptop, £300 in cash, old mobile phones and other items had been taken.

Four days later on October 28, at about 7.10am, Brown found an envelope addressed to him which had been hand-delivered to his house. On opening it he found it to contain a letter demanding £8,000 in cash as well as three indecent images of a boy.

The author of the letter stated they had indecent images of children which came from the burglary and demanded £8,000 cash to buy their silence and for the return of the images. There was a telephone number included for Mr Brown to ring.

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Brown reported this to police who attended the address and interviewed him as a witness where he denied any knowledge of the indecent images.

Ryan Penfold, 29, of Tirrington, Bretton, was traced via the mobile phone number left on the letter. He was located and arrested on October 28, 2015, and a search was carried out at his home address where officers found the items stolen from Brown’s home.

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Penfold was charged in connection with the offence and pleaded guilty to burglary, handling stolen goods, blackmail and possession of class A and B drugs. He was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison.

Forensic analysis of Brown’s devices uncovered a total of 718 indecent images of children as young as three-years-old, all with creation dates before the date of the burglary on October 24, 2015.

The images included 600 still and 118 moving images, 170 of which were graded category A (the most severe), 372 category B and 176 category C, as well as three prohibited images of a child and two extreme pornographic images.

Brown was arrested on November 2, 2015, and admitted the devices belonged to him, however he denied all knowledge of the images. When he was told the dates the images were placed on the devices, he claimed the burglar must have broken into his home on a previous occasion to place them there.

Prior to his arrest Brown was the Chair of Governors of The Kings School in Park Road, Peterborough, as well as working for the AQA examination board and Trinity College London.

On April 6 last year (2016) he was charged with three counts of possessing indecent images of a child, two counts of making indecent images of a child, two counts of possessing extreme pornographic imagery and one count of possessing prohibited images of a child.

On Wednesday, October 26 last year, he appeared at Peterborough Crown Court and denied the charges against him, continuing with the defence that the burglar, or someone else, must have put the images on his devices. Due to new claims being made by the defence and then subsequent further evidence being supplied by the prosecution, the case was adjourned for a retrial which started on Monday, March 20.

Today (Thursday, March 30), Brown was found guilty of all charges excluding the two relating to possessing extreme pornographic imagery.

Detective Sergeant James Weston, from the Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT), said: “I am pleased with the decision from the court today, this was a complicated investigation with increased risk because of the defendant’s position of trust.

“His denial throughout the investigation regarding the possession of indecent images of children, extreme and prohibited images resulted in extensive digital forensic investigation work and analysis. We remain committed to safeguarding the most vulnerable and will take positive action to protect those at risk of significant harm.”

Sentencing has been scheduled for April 27 at Cambridge Crown Court.

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