A SENIOR IT technician at a Leeds high school abused his position in order to access and distribute horrific child sex abuse images.
John Warke stole the online identity of a college at Rodillian Academy in order to cover up his “perverted obsession” with incest and sexual violence towards children.
Warke also amassed almost 20,000 images of sexual abuse towards children and animals on computers at his home in the village of Carlton, Leeds, over a four and a half year period.
Leeds Crown Court heard Warke had access to IT equipment at the school in Lofthouse and took advantage of an opportunity when asked to repair a colleague’s computer.
Warke was able to access sensitive information and a picture which he used to set up a Skype account using her identity.
The 40-year-old then used the account to chat to others online about incest and violence towards children.
He also used his colleague’s profile to distribute child sex images online.
Warke managed to access the dark web to obtain some of the most depraved images.
Computers at his home at the The Grange, Carlton, were seized after his offending came to light.
Jonathan Sharp, prosecuting, said police recovered 1,110 illegal images and movies.
A total of 414 were at category A - the most serious level of offending.
Mr Sharp said a further 18,870 images and movies were recovered but not graded by officers.
The court heard NONE of the images were of children from the school.
Warke pleaded guilty to an offence of securing unauthorised computer material with intent, under the Computer Misuses Act, 1990.
He also pleaded guilty to distributing sexual images of a child, three of making indecent images of a child and one of making an extreme pornographic image.
Mr Sharp read a victim statement to the court on behalf of the woman who had her identity stolen by Warke.
She said: “I feel sickened and victimised by his behaviour.
“I have only ever been a mate to John and have tried to support him. To find out he has done this to me has destroyed me.
“How can I trust anyone else after this?”
David Gordon, mitigating, said: “This is a day of shame for Mr Warke.
“He is 40 years of age and has no previous convictions or cautions recorded against him. He has lost his good name and will never get it back.”
Mr Gordon said Warke committed the offences at a time when he had suffered a bereavement and was under pressure at work.
The barrister said Warke had lost his job as a result of his offending.
Jailing Warke, judge Tom Bayliss, QC, said: “It is a very worrying feature for any court when someone with such a responsible position in an environment which that person comes in to contact with young people, engages in activities such as you engaged in.”
A statement was released after the case on behalf of the school, which read: “The Rodillian Multi Academy Trust has been liaising closely with the West Yorkshire Police in relation to the case against a former employee, Mr Jon Warke.
“Mr Warke was suspended immediately from his role at the Rodillian Academy in October 2016, as soon as we were informed of his arrest.
“Mr Warke has subsequently resigned from his role and the Trust have referred this matter to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), in line with statutory responsibilities.
“We would like to stress that there were no concerns in relation to Mr Warke’s conduct whilst he was employed at Rodillian Academy. The Trust’s commitment to safeguarding its students and staff remains paramount and enhanced DBS checks are undertaken by all staff on appointment.
“All staff remain vigilant and understand their responsibilities to promote the safeguarding and welfare of the students.
“The IT infrastructure and secure firewall systems in place within the Trust protects everyone from issues of this nature.
“The Police have confirmed that they have found no evidence or suggestion that any of the allegations are connected with any children attending any academy within The Rodillian Multi Academy Trust.”