School Santa admits child porn offence

Moray Kent Nicholson was on a work placement at Corstorphine Primary
Moray Kent Nicholson was on a work placement at Corstorphine Primary
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A VOLUNTEER classroom assistant at an Edinburgh primary school, who once dressed as Santa Claus for pupils, is facing jail after admitting a child pornography offence.

Moray Kent Nicholson, who was on work experience at Corstorphine Primary School at the time of the offending, was immediately dismissed when the police investigation came to light.

Corstorphine Primary School

Corstorphine Primary School

Council chiefs today said that none of the children at the school, where Nicholson’s mother, Anne Kent, also works as a teacher, were involved in the case.

The school insisted that the 22-year-old never had “unsupervised access” to pupils at the time he was involved in creating sexual images of children.

Nicholson appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday after earlier pleading guilty to taking or permitting to be taken or making indecent or pseudo-photographs of children at the family home in Saughtonhall Drive, Murrayfield, between July 24, 2010 and October 13, 2010.

Sentencing against Nicholson was deferred until next month after his defence agent asked for further medical reports to be compiled.

Nicholson was a voluntary classroom assistant on a work experience placement over six weeks during September and October 2010.

He underwent and passed a full disclosure check to be allowed to work at the school and was given the non-salaried, part-time role.

When police officers alerted the authorities about their inquiry into the child pornography, Nicholson was removed from his placement at the school.

Speaking at his mother’s home yesterday, Nicholson claimed he had not worked at the school, but had “played Santa once”.

He refused to comment on the court case.

Mike Rosendale, head of schools at the city council, said: “Mr Nicholson participated in a work placement at Corstorphine Primary School for six weeks in 2010, although he did not have unsupervised access to pupils.

“We are aware of these very serious charges and would like to emphasise that they do not relate to his work placement. All necessary disclosure checks were carried out before his placement commenced.”

Nicholson, a former Tynecastle High pupil who now lives in Yardheads in Leith, was due to be sentenced yesterday until the case was delayed for another report. Sheriff Elizabeth Jarvie QC set a new date for sentencing on May 23.

Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Edie, whose ward includes the school, is also the city’s community safety leader.

He said: “I’m relieved that they managed to find out about this person before he was able to do any harm to pupils at the school.

“It’s almost impossible in cases where someone has not offended previously to second- guess what they are going to do. Schools can only go so far if the data is not there during a disclosure check.”

Three parent council members at Corstorphine Primary, when contacted by the Evening News, said that they had not been told about the Nicholson case.

Playground perverts

TEACHERS or school staff being caught with child porn is rare but it has happened in the Lothians before.

Last August, primary teacher Colin Chisholm appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court after being caught with indecent images of children on his home computer.

Chisholm, right, then 28, of Dryden Place, Newington, was employed at St Cuthbert’s RC Primary School in Slateford.

He received a community payback order for downloading indecent images of children being abused by adults.

He was teaching P1 to P3 classes when he was caught with images of children as young as six.

In October 2008, music teacher Jamieson Sutherland was jailed for 18 months for viewing pictures of child pornography on his home computer. Sutherland taught music part-time at schools in Edinburgh.

The 40-year-old’s laptop was seized after a tip-off and police found 4000 images of children on it.

In March of the same year, 48-year-old Mark Melville, headteacher at Whitecraig Primary in East Lothian, was ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service after being found in possession of more than 450 illegal images.

East Lothian Council sacked the father-of-three following an internal investigation.