Piano teacher with over 20,000 indecent images of children in an ‘abuse of trust’ charged
A piano teacher has been sentenced after taking “upskirting” pictures and videos of his pupils and sending inappropriate messages to an eight-year-old girl, in a serious ‘abuse of trust’
Ben Thomas, 30, of Westbourne Grove, Hessle, pleaded guilty to taking indecent images and videos of children, with around 2,000 in a serious category, Mr. Thomas was jailed for two years. There were around 16 victims that were his students, and 64 videos were made between June and July last year.
Mr. Thomas would conduct lessons at a North Lincolnshire school, his own residence, and the student’s homes, the court heard we would make the girls examine the piano, then use his mobile device to record videos, the court heard on Friday, August 5.
Prosecuting, Nigel Clive QC told the court that Thomas was finally caught when the mother of one of the eight-year-old victims discovered inappropriate WhatsApp messages.
The court heard that the girl’s piano lessons would become “longer and longer”, despite being supposed to be around half an hour. Thomas would contact the girl via WhatsApp and send pictures and videos of his cats, she contacted Thomas and told him to stop contacting her daughter, then contacted Humberside Police, who arrested Thomas and seized his devices.
He was initially interviewed by police on August 11 last year.
After his devices were recovered and analyzed, the Police found 26,461 images and 445 videos in Categories A, B, and C. A total of 1,625 were of the most serious category, with an age as young as 3 in his ‘systematically stored’ catalogue.
As part of several Victim Personal Statements, an individual said: “For someone that age she is not trusting of people. She was such a confident girl but now she won’t wear a skirt or a dress, even during the summer.”
“She is less trusting of teachers and men. She is more suspicious of everyone and feels misled by this defendant. She is shocked that someone would take advantage,” read another.
Mitigating, Alexander Leach QC said: “It was a descent into a world of internet porn that led to indecent images of children and culminated in the production of the indecent images of children. The most serious aggravating factors are the abuse of trust, the fact that the children were known to the defendant, and the number of children. There was a profound abuse of trust and a damage to the confidence of these children.”
He said: “This was a course of conduct that was put in place from a very young age. He has taken exceptional steps to rehabilitation, he has engaged with therapy.”
Sentencing, Recorder Kelly addressed Thomas: “The fallout does not simply remain with you recording images of them. Some of the parents have expressed how guilty they feel by allowing them to be in your presence. But it is not their fault, it is your fault alone. You fooled them into thinking you were trustworthy.
“You lost your employment, and your fiancée called off your engagement, but these risks must have occurred to you as being a consequence of how you were acting. You have lost your good name and also the possibility of forming an adult relationship. The impact of the offending will live with you for your adult life, but you only have yourself to blame.
“The children don’t seem real to you. The abuse these children suffered to enable these images to be made are real. For every image you downloaded, a child had to be sexually abused. You and people like you fuel the need for children to be sexually abused.”
Thomas received a ten-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order, prohibiting him from using any device which accesses the internet. He is also unable to remove or delete any messages on his devices, cohabit with any female under the age of 16, and is also required to sign on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.