York & North Yorkshire

'Puppet master' teacher jailed for inciting child abuse

Richard Clark Image copyright North Yorkshire Police
Image caption Richard Clark admitted 26 charges and was jailed for 12 years

A teacher who manipulated people to sexually abuse children in their care while he recorded it online has been branded a "malign puppet master" by a judge.

Richard Clark used false identities to incite abuse on children around the world over a two-year period.

York Crown Court heard the scale of his offending meant 17 children had to be removed from their homes for safety.

Clark, of North Yorkshire, admitted 26 charges and was jailed for 12 years.

Between April 2016 and April this year, Clarke, 29, convinced users to send images and recordings of their own relatives being abused.

The court heard in one the victim was so young that a nappy could be seen.

Sentencing Clark, of Topcliffe Road in Thirsk, Judge Andrew Stubbs QC said: "It is plain that this was all done for your own sexual gratification."

'Rated as objects'

The school teacher posed as a teenager, often befriending victims and asking them to send indecent photographs of themselves, sometimes in return for images he downloaded.

He also kept a record of his victims, categorising them based on their appearance, size of their genitalia and ways he had abused them.

The court heard his offending led to the issuing of 79 Child Exploitation and Online Protection packages in the UK and internationally.

Judge Stubbs said Clark "systematically robbed your victims of their character, their self-esteem and their life chances".

"You manipulated others to abuse children at your discretion like some sort of malign puppet master."

He said Clark rated his victims "as objects" and that many felt "trapped" as he accrued sensitive images of them.

Clark pleaded guilty to 26 charges but a further 54 offences were taken into consideration. He will serve a further eight years on licence.

List of charges Clark admitted:

  • Ten counts of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence
  • Three of distributing indecent images of a child
  • Nine of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity or send indecent images
  • Three of possession of indecent photographs of a child
  • One of possession of an extreme pornographic image

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