A TEACHER’S career and reputation are “in tatters”, after he was found to have amassed more than a thousand indecent images of children, a court heard.

Jonathan Alexander Briggs was said to have taken great steps to conceal his paedophilic interest featuring children as young as four being sexually abused by adults.

But his online activities came to light when police removed several digital devices, including a lap-top and external hard drive, from his home on April 24, this year.

Durham Crown Court was told Briggs identified himself to the officers as the sole occupier of the premises and as a secondary school teacher.

Andrew Walker, prosecuting, said examination of the devices revealed several encrypted files for which examiners needed special software to gain access.

It was found that over the preceding four-and-a-half years Briggs downloaded 1,325 offending images, including 436 in the most serious category, 244 of them moving, as well as six images featuring scenes of bestiality.

Mr Walker said all were still accessible and it was clear some had been viewed on multiple occasions.

Experts discovered use of a browser capable of masking internet activity and a virtual private software network maintaining the anonymity of the user.

The defendant admitted downloading the images, when in drink, over several years, but there was no evidence of any sharing.

Via peer to peer software, however, dialogue between Briggs and another man revealed what Judge James Adkin described as, “a somewhat flippant attitude.”

Briggs, 34, of Edward Avenue, Bowburn, admitted three counts of making indecent images of children and one of possessing extreme pornography.

Paul Cleasby, mitigating, said the defendant, of previous good character, made immediate admissions.

“He doesn’t recognise the person surfing the internet, searching for these images and struggles to explain why he behaved like he did.

“There is a prospect of rehabilitation to be seized. There’s no suggestion of any contact offences. He’s keen to let that be known.”

Judge Adkin told Briggs: “You have lost your employment and you will never work with children again. Your reputation is in tatters with friends and family.”

But a Probation Service report recommended that the former head of maths can be dealt with in the community.

Imposing a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, Judge Adkin ordered Briggs to undergo a sex offender rehabilitation programme and 30 probation-supervised activity days.

He will also be subject to registration as a sex offender and a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, both for ten years.

An NSPCC spokesperson has said: "It is extremely worrying that someone with such a position of trust and responsibility for children would access this appalling material.

"In every one of these images, a child was sexually abused for the gratification of vile individuals like him. By downloading them, he has helped to fuel this evil industry.

"To help stop this horrendous crime, the NSPCC is calling on tech giants, government and law enforcement agencies to do more to prevent such content from being published in the first place and to try to remove this material as soon as possible when it is published on the internet."

"Anyone who has information about child abuse images can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 for support and advice, 365 days a year. Children who have concerns about illicit content online can contact Childline on 0800 11 11 or via childline.org.uk."