A FORMER deputy head of a primary school has avoided immediate custody after admitting watching vile child rape videos.

Richard Swinnerton had watched child sexual abuse on the dark web for two years before he was arrested by National Crime Agency officers at his home on May 15 this year.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the 31-year-old would even watch the horrific videos while his wife and child were upstairs in his Middlesbrough home.

Swinnerton - who has resigned from his job at St Clare’s Catholic Primary School in Middlesbrough – told officers he used TOR software (The Onion Router) to make himself anonymous on the dark web.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said one of the videos lasted for more than 36 minutes and another showed the sexual abuse of a two or three year old.

"His wife and child would be upstairs when he was viewing these images," he said. "The purpose of the searches were for his own sexual gratification. He would view the images for about half an hour."

The court heard how Swinnerton made full and frank admissions when he was arrested and told officers they would find indecent images on his laptop.

Swinnerton, of Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to three charges of possession of indecent images when he appeared at magistrates' court.

Officers found no evidence to suggest that any of the images were made at the school and there is no allegation of physical abuse.

John Nixon, in mitigation, said his client had never been in trouble before and had not abused any of the children he had taught during his career as a primary school teacher.

Mr Nixon urged the judge to pass a suspended sentence after Swinnerton's 'fall from grace'. 

Judge Deborah Sherwin sentenced the former teacher to ten months in custody, suspended for two years.

Swinnerton was also ordered to carry out 35 rehabilitation activity requirement days and attend 27 days at a specialist programme for sex offenders.

He was given a ten-year sexual harm prevention order as well.