Ex-Clifton College teacher jailed for secret filming at boarding school

Media caption,
Teacher who hid cameras in walls

A former teacher has been jailed after admitting making indecent films of more than 120 pupils using hidden cameras at a boarding school.

Jonathan Thomson-Glover, 53, of Wadebridge, pleaded guilty to making the films at Clifton College, Bristol, and also at an address in Cornwall.

Taunton Crown Court heard the victims aged between 12 and 17 were secretly filmed over a 16-year period.

Judge David Ticehurst jailed Thomson-Glover for three years and nine months.

'Little sympathy'

He was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders' Register indefinitely and banned from working with children.

Image source, Avon and Somerset Police
Image caption,
Hidden cameras filmed the victims at a house in Cornwall, the court heard

"You are a man looking at a life that is now in ruins. That life was a good life and you have made a positive contribution," Judge Ticehurst said.

"It is a life now reduced to rubble as a result of your fatal flaw. You are the author of your own misfortune and there can be little sympathy for you.

"It is impossible to calculate the harm and damage you may have caused to those who trusted you or were in your care."

Thomson-Glover had pleaded guilty to 36 counts of making, taking and possessing indecent images of children.

But the court heard there is no evidence the footage was shared or that Thomson-Glover behaved "improperly" to any child.

Image caption,
The court was told police found more than 300 VHS tapes

Clifton College said it was "shocked and appalled" at the findings... which amount to an "unforgivable breach of trust".

"The college has taken considerable steps to ensure... nothing like this can ever happen again," a spokesman said.

"As part of this we have carried out a series of specific reviews, including an external review of safeguarding and related polices; and a review of our IT systems.

"We have also carried out physical searches of college buildings and no hidden cameras were found fixed to college property.

"We are committed to ensuring the safety of our pupils... if there are any further lessons to be learned, we will learn them."

'Extreme anger'

The court was told police found more than 300 VHS tapes, which included more than 2,500 hours of covert video footage.

The prosecution claimed the material involved more than 130 young victims.

Det Insp Andrea Kingdon, from Devon and Cornwall Police, said some of the images were of girls, boys and adults showering, changing, using the toilet, and in some cases "conducting private acts".

"The way he's behaved is abhorrent, it's a massive breach of trust, an invasion of privacy... and when you imagine the position he's in in relation to his victims he's captured them doing the most private of acts," she said.

"When we had to approach these victims, it's something that's come out the blue and they've acted in a variety of ways from extreme anger to bitter disappointment."

Image caption,
One parent described Jonathan Thomson-Glover as being "too close to the boys"

A parent of a 14-year-old victim said Thomson-Glover gave the impression he was "illiterate" when it came to technology, "but obviously he wasn't".

"He was absolutely charming. He was Mr Chips, he lived and breathed the college," she said.

"But there was the general feeling he was too close to the boys."

'Quite extraordinary'

Dr Lauren Devine, a senior lecturer in law at the University of the West of England, said the case questioned the level of safeguarding that exists in schools.

"The fact this has gone on for 16 years is quite extraordinary and unusual in the level of subterfuge that would have had to have taken place to remain undetected," she said.

Image source, Avon and Somerset Police
Image caption,
Jonathan Thomson-Glover pleaded guilty to 36 counts of making, taking and possessing indecent images of children

Howard Phillips, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said, Thomson-Glover was an educated and intelligent man who "used and abused his position to further his abuse of children in his care.

"I hope the sentence passed will bring some closure to the victims and deter others from acting in a similar way," Mr Phillips said.

The NSPCC said Thomson-Glover collected a decade-worth of indecent images and videos of pupils he worked with every day at Clifton College - young people who looked up to and trusted him.

"Any allegation of child sexual offence made against a teacher is of course a cause for concern and it's vital that it is properly investigated," a spokesman for the children's charity said.

"And staff must be trained to take action to investigate any suspected inappropriate behaviour between a colleague and a child."

Thomson-Glover was arrested in August 2014 after the National Crime Agency discovered his computer IP address had been used to download indecent images of children.

Officers seized four computers, discs and a number of Hi-8 camcorder tapes, with 330 VHS video tapes from three address they searched.

Clifton College was founded in 1862 and describes itself on its website as "a leading independent public school". The fee for boarders is about £30,000 a year.

Image source, Clifton College
Image caption,
Clifton College was founded in 1862 and is described on its website as "a leading independent public school"

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