Tyne & Wear

Newcastle professor avoids jail over child pornography

A Newcastle University professor who admitted several of child pornography offences has avoided a prison sentence.

Police raided the home of Michael Kehoe at Old Byre, Morpeth, in April last year. They found more than 200 indecent images of children on his computer.

The leading professor in microbiology was given a three-year community order at Newcastle Crown Court earlier.

The 56-year old was also placed on the sex offenders register for five years.

Investigators grade images of child pornography from 1 to 5 with grade 5 images regarded as the most serious and offensive.

Of the 232 images found on Kehoe's computer, 22 were level four.

The images had been downloaded and then deleted over a 14-month period.

Kehoe worked at the university's Institute of Cell and Molecular Biosciences but was suspended following his arrest.

'Fully remorseful'

The court heard that he is one of the world's leading experts in his field and his work has saved countless lives.

His wife of 29 years and colleagues from the academic world were in court.

At an earlier hearing at Newcastle Crown Court, Kehoe admitted four specimen charges of making indecent images of children.

Prosecutor Paul Rowland said: "Mr Kehoe was extremely candid with interviewing officers, extremely co-operative and accepted he had downloaded these images over a period of time.

"He was somewhat vague as to why he had downloaded them."

The court heard that Kehoe was struggling to come to terms with the death of his mother at the time the offences were committed.

His brother was also seriously ill at the time and later died.

Judge Brian Forster QC said in court: "I accept that you are fully remorseful for your offending.

"I am quite satisfied that you acted out of character because of the pressure you came under at the time."

Kehoe was also ordered to pay £1,200 prosecution costs.

Newcastle University has confirmed Kehoe will face disciplinary measures.

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