Former teacher and councillor jailed over child abuse images
A former primary school teacher and town councillor who had thousands of indecent images of children has been jailed for two years and nine months.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) said Matthew Sephton had held "positions of trust" and would have been "expected to be a role model" but instead was searching for and downloading thousands of indecent images and was also a member of paedophile chat groups.
Sephton, 42, of Altrincham, Cheshire, was found guilty of six counts of making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children at Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, and sentenced to two years and nine months in prison.
Sephton, a former Trafford councillor representing Altrincham, will also be placed on the sex offenders' register for life.
Searches of his telephones and computer, after he was arrested in December 2016, revealed thousands of indecent images, including some which were in the worst possible category.
A series of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger messages were found between Sephton and former Lincolnshire councillor Richard Willis, in which they swapped child abuse images and talked about their sexual preferences.
The NCA said Willis, a former town councillor for Sleaford in Lincolnshire, was convicted of sharing indecent images of children in June 2017.
Sephton claimed that a man named "Tom" was responsible for downloading the images and sending the messages.
The NCA said that its investigators made extensive inquiries into this claim but the existence of "Tom" was never proved.
Sephton was convicted of making 849 category A indecent images of children, and making 722 category B and 2,111 category C indecent images of children.
He was also convicted of possession of extreme pornography, possession of 106 indecent images of children and the distribution of six indecent images of children.
After the hearing Hazel Stewart, of the NCA, said: "Throughout his offending, Matthew Sephton held positions of trust as both a primary school teacher and a local councillor.
"He was expected to be a role model for children but was actively involved in sharing the most horrendous child abuse images imaginable.
"Every time these images are shared, the child is victimised again and again.
"NCA officers are dedicated to protecting children. We work closely with our law enforcement partners to target and identify those using online tools to perpetuate child abuse and bring them to justice."