Manchester

Altrincham teacher jailed over child abuse images

Matthew Sephton Image copyright National Crime Agency
Image caption Matthew Sephton downloaded thousands of indecent images of children

A primary school teacher has been jailed for sharing the "most horrendous child abuse images imaginable".

Matthew Sephton, 42, was convicted at Manchester Crown Court after denying six counts of making, possessing and distributing indecent child images.

The court heard that he was a member of groups which shared child abuse images.

Sephton, of Maximus Drive, Altrincham, was jailed for two years and nine months, and must stay on the sex offenders register for life.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said its officers seized Sephton's phones and computers when they arrested him in December 2016.

Forensic examinations found Sephton, who was a Conservative councillor for Altrincham on Trafford Council, had searched for and downloaded thousands of images of children including some in the "worst category possible".

A chat application on one of his phones revealed his membership of groups sharing abusive images.

'Role model'

A series of messages on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger between Sephton and Richard Willis exposed how the pair exchanged multiple child abuse images and discussed their sexual preferences.

Willis, a former town councillor for Sleaford in Lincolnshire, was convicted of sharing indecent images in June 2017.

Sephton denied the charges against him and claimed that a man named 'Tom' was responsible for downloading the images and sending the messages. Despite extensive enquiries by the NCA investigation team, the existence of 'Tom' was never proved.

Hazel Stewart, from the NCA, said Sephton was "expected to be a role model for children but was actively involved in sharing the most horrendous child abuse images imaginable".

The NCA said it was working closely with the local authority and the school where Sephton taught to ensure safeguarding measures are in place.

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