Former Sunderland School teacher avoids prison after possessing 26,000 child abuse images

A former Sunderland teacher who was caught with more than 26,000 child abuse images has avoided prison.

Andrew McLean was caught with a sickening collection of “grotesque” pictures and videos featured children aged between one and 16.

Newcastle Crown Court heard 72 were the most serious, category A images, 223 were category B and 25,778 were category C.

He had downloaded them between 2014 and 2021.

The court heard McLean had catalogued them in alphabetical order and had put them on a Powerpoint file to enable him to scroll through them more quickly.

The 67-year-old, formerly of Sunderland, but has now moved to Carlisle, Cumbria, pleaded guilty to three charges of making indecent images.

He was sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with a £500 fine and £445 costs.

McLean must also sign the sex offenders register and will be subject to a sexual harm prevention order for ten years.

Judge Julie Clemitson told him: “No one who commits this sort of offence should be under any illusions. Each and every image depicts a real child who’s being abused, causing untold harm to that child.

“The harm caused to children by abuse is exacerbated if they know the image of that abuse is cast around the globe for goodness knows how many thousands of millions of people to view and will be there for the rest of their lives.”

The court heard he wrote a “letter of self-loathing” to the court and is remorseful.

Mark Harrison, defending, said McLean had made full admissions to police.

He added that McClean said to officers and the courts during earlier hearings that he was guilty and didn’t deserve legal representation.

Mr Harrison told the court: “He has ruined his relationship with many family members, spoiled his good name in the local community, ruined his professional legacy, lost his home and relocated out of the area to prevent reprisals.

“He has deliberately moved to sheltered accommodation-type accommodation to remove himself from the usual make-up of a more diverse community.

“He understands there are no excuses for the selfish behaviour of him downloading these grotesque images.”

The court heard he used to work in the insurance business but became a teacher in 2000.