Child porn head jailed

Peter Croft, who has been jailed for 15 months for possessing and making indecent images of children
Peter Croft, who has been jailed for 15 months for possessing and making indecent images of children

A FORMER headteacher who “plummeted into a whirlpool of shame” after making and distributing child pornography has been jailed.

Father-of-two Peter Croft, who was headteacher of The Willows Catholic Primary School in Kirkham for 10 years, downloaded 520 photographs and videos of children – some who were as young as three years old.

Peter Croft, who has been jailed for 15 months for possessing and making indecent images of children

Peter Croft, who has been jailed for 15 months for possessing and making indecent images of children

Preston Crown Court heard the images covered levels one to five, with level five being the most serious images of child abuse.

Judge Simon Newell said: “These are vulnerable children. They are abused and raped in the most vile ways.

“They can suffer physical and psychological pain and distress which is often permanent.

“Their childhood has been taken from them, damaged or destroyed. That is done by men sitting at computers screens looking at these pictures.

“Without these men, these children would not be abused. People like Croft are the cause of that abuse.”

Croft, of Chorley, pleaded guilty to 21 counts of making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children – who were aged three to 13 – in February this year. He was jailed for 15 months.

Defence barrister Alan Wolstenholme said: “He has not merely fallen from grace, he has plummeted headlong into a whirlpool of shame and humiliation. He has utter regret for what he has done and can only apologise with complete sincerity to all of those whose lives have been damaged or affected by his conduct.”

The court heard none of the offences committed related to any of the children at The Willows.

Gerrie Byrne, chair of the school’s governors, said staff and pupils had “moved on”.

“This case has impacted on all of us,” she said. “Governors, staff and families have supported each other in the last six months and we are grateful for the assistance from individuals at Lancashire County Council, Lancashire Constabulary and the Lancaster Diocese.

“The school has moved on and is thriving. We hope and pray the young victims are able to do the same one day.”

Croft was put on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years, disqualified from working with children for life and placed on a sexual offences prevention order for life.