Former teacher Darren McKenna has narrowly avoided a prison sentence despite pleading guilty to three counts of downloading indecent images of children and one count of possession of those images.

McKenna, 48, appeared at Liverpool Crown Court and was told by Judge Norman Wright that he had escaped imprisonment “by the skin of his teeth.” Instead, the former teacher and former school governor was given a six-month suspended sentence for two years.

Wright decided to give McKenna a suspended sentence because he was found with a relatively low amount of indecent images, pleaded guilty early on in the process, and was previously considered a man of good character. As well as the suspended sentence, McKenna was also given a two year supervision order and will be required to attend a rehabilitation programme for sexual offenders.

McKenna was formerly a Keystage 4 manager at the Launchpad Pupil Referral Unit in St Helens, an educational environment for children and young adults with behavioural problems. He resigned from his position after he was arrested. The prosecution told the court that McKenna had used encryption software to access the images, one of which was a video.

As the indecent images north west case progressed, McKenna claimed that he started viewing the indecent images six years ago while he was searching for adult pornography as a way of escaping his marital problems and had never received any sexual gratification from the images downloaded. He was found to have downloaded hundreds of the images.

Instead, according to the prosecution Simon Duncan, McKenna did it because he enjoyed the feeling of breaking the rules and that he was experiencing a nervous breakdown at the time because of marital problems and the stress of working two jobs. The judge determined that there was no suggestion that McKenna had acted inappropriately with children, though he was clear to assert that McKenna’s crimes were not ‘victimless.’

Being accused of possessing, downloading or taking indecent images of children is very serious and can have a drastic impact on your life, especially if a conviction arises, which due to the nature of the law in this area is extremely likely. In cases involving the taking, distributing and making of indecent images involving children the maximum sentence is 10 years, whereas the maximum sentence for possession of indecent images is 5 years.

If you have been accused of an offence involving child pornography or indecent images of children, then the prosecution must prove the following:

  • That you possess photographs that are indecent
  • That the photographs show a child or children under the age of 18 years

The Courts have also defined photograph very broadly to include digital images, pictures stored on a computer, videos and pseudo-photographs.  These photographs also do not need to be deliberately downloaded meaning that indecent images can often be stored on electronic media without the owners specific knowledge.  In such instances they may still be held to legally possess them.

As the nature of such offences is so sensitive and complex, it’s vital that you have trustworthy and experienced representation from the best indecent images solicitors available. Going through the process can be extremely difficult, and experienced solicitors can help to get you through it with dependable advice and expertise.

Stephen Lickrish and Associates are a group of indecent images solicitors in Manchester that also operates nationally, providing representation for indecent images Newcastle and more. If you’ve been accused of making, distributing or possessing indecent images of children, contact them today for reputable legal advice.