School teacher had indecent images on his home computer

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POLICE found more than 1,300 sickening images of boys and men on the computer of a biology teacher.

They were led to Andrew Beattie’s home in Hawick through a credit card and an email address.

And when the local press reported the Selkirk High School teacher’s first court appearance in May last year two of his former pupils came forward to say they had been indecently assaulted by him at the school.

At Jedburgh Sheriff Court last week the 61-year-old pleaded guilty to making inappropriate remarks to a 14-year-old pupil at the school between April and August 1991, and performing oral sex on a 15-year-old boy between April 1995 and May 1996. The first offender also admitted, on indictment, having indecent images of children at his home in Hawick’s Longhope Drive on May 4 last year.

He’s been freed on bail to be sentenced next month, but has been placed on the Sex Offenders Register. Beattie is said to be suffering from depression and seeking professional help through his doctor.

Procurator fiscal Morag McLintock told how a joint operation run by Lincolnshire Police and the Child Protection Centre led to an email address used by the accused to download indecent images of children and a credit card which linked him to a website.

It was on May 4 last year that police arrived at Selkirk High School. Beattie was detained and his home searched.

Ms McLintock told the court that a computer system was removed from his bedroom and he told officers it was the one they were looking for.

The computer hard drive was examined and 444 level one images showing young boys posing provocatively were found. There were also 102 images at level two, showing multiple participants posing in images and movies, ranging in age from 10 to 14 years.

At level three, 406 images were found, showing young boys and adult males engaging in non-penetrative sexual acts, some with children of only a few years old.

There were also 439 images at level four, showing young boys and adult males involved in sexual acts, as well as images and movies between children – again with some just a few years old.

And the fiscal revealed that when court reports appeared in local newspapers two former pupils contacted police.

The first, who had been 14 at the time of the offence, “became very emotional when he reflected on the incident involving the accused”, said Ms McLintock.

He told officers how the accused had befriended him and he had gone to his classroom to say goodbye.

Ms McLintock went on: “The accused took him to a room next door and placed his hand on the boy’s thigh, moving it up to his crotch and fondled him. The boy was described as shocked and confused and did not report the incident.

The second pupil, who was 15 at the time, also came forward after reading about the accused in the local press.

The fiscal said the boy found he was “able to share his concerns with the accused, who appeared understanding, and they had supportive chats” while he was at school.

“He had an open invitation to come and speak to his teacher, and during about six of these chats, it wasn’t just chatting which took place,” continued Ms McLintock.

Beattie’s behaviour included sexual remarks and the fiscal added: “It also included him touching the boy on the thigh area, handling his genitals and fondling them”. Beattie also performed a sexual act on the pupil.

When police called at Beattie’s home he was fully co-operative and admitted his guilt.

Defence advocate Shelagh McCall said she would reserve the bulk of her mitigation until reports were available.

But she told the court: “These types of offences are often characterised by denial and avoidance of blame, but the accused is in marked contrast to that normal practice.

“He is appalled by his behaviour and filled with remorse. He is determined to gain an understanding of his conduct to ensure this behaviour does not occur again.”

She went on: “These are easy things to say, but are backed up by actions on his part.

“Not only did he direct police to the computer, but he also gave them his old email address, and when he was interviewed about the other two offences, he immediately admitted his involvement.”

The advocate added: “That co-operation with police has continued throughout”.

The advocate said her client had been suffering from depression and anxiety and had been offered a place on a treatment programme, which he intended to pursue, and had also sought professional help through his GP and therapy.

Sheriff Donald Corke said he was prepared to continue bail while social enquiry and community service reports were prepared.

Beattie was placed on the Sex Offenders Register and sentence on him deferred until April 20 at Duns Sheriff Court while social workers prepare background reports.