Paedophile teacher escapes internet ban

Chisholm had previously admitted being attracted to children

A COURT bid to ban a paedophile primary school teacher from accessing the internet and contacting youngsters has been refused.

Colin Chisholm escaped jail earlier this year after he downloaded indecent images of children being abused by adults.

In September he was given a community payback order and police were given permission to check his computer whenever they wanted.

But it emerged today that officers only checked his computer for the first time last week – nine weeks after he was sentenced.

And today the body which regulates offenders said the controls over Chisholm were not tough enough.

The Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) applied toEdinburgh Sheriff Courtto have Chisholm banned from the internet unless he had social work permission.

They also asked that Chisholm be banned from contacting people under seventeen, said social worker Leslie Simmons during a hearing today.

Ms Simmons said Mappa held a meeting about Chisholm on November 3. She added: “I understand that some of the members of Mappa were not happy about the level of supervision.”

But Chisholm’s defence agent, Mark Harrower, strongly opposed the move.

He said: “It’s simply not on for people who have not been involved in the sentencing process to come along and try and overturn the decision of the court a month later.

“There’s no indication as to why these requirements are necessary.”

Mr Harrower said the police were already free to inspect Chisholm’s computer equipment at any time.

He revealed: “The first time the police actually exercised the powers to go and check Mr Chisholm’s computer was last Wednesday night at 7pm when he was having dinner with his parents.”

The computer was scanned by officers and “nothing adverse” was found on it, said Mr Harrower.

“There are many barriers being put in his path to try and get his life back on track.”

He said to impose the new conditions was “going behind the court’s back”.

Mr Harrower said legislation indicated there would have to be a change of circumstances for the court to change the order.

He said that Chisholm would have to contact his social worker to ask permission to look for a job online if the changes to the order were made.

He added: “He has got to live his life. The family have got relatives with children who will be coming over for Christmas.

“This was a non-contact offence towards the end of the scale.”

Sheriff Derrick McIntyre said there did not appear to have been any new “circumstances” since Chisholm’s sentence was imposed.

He refused the request to ban Chisholm from using the internet and to restrict him from contacting people under seventeen.

But a request for him to take part in group work programmes was granted after Mr Harrower said Chisholm was willing to take part.

Chisholm taught at four different schools during his career and was a scout leader for nine years.

And he was teaching P1 to P3 classes atEdinburgh’s St Cuthberts School when he was caught with images of children as young as six.

He admitted to police that he was “sexually attracted” to children.

Sheriff Isabella McColl, who imposed the three year community payback order, said the sentence was a more “constructive” one than custody.

But she added: “I will be notifying Scottish Ministers for you to be included in the list of unsuitable persons to work with children.”

The offences took place in spring of this year, less than a year after he took up his post at St Cuthberts.

Fiscal depute Dev Kapadia told the court that one of the videos was 50 seconds long, while another was just over five minutes long.

The children were aged between six and 12.

One video contained footage of sexual activity between children and adults, the court heard.

Mr Kapadia told the court: “Chisholm admitted straight away that he had downloaded indecent images of children.

“He indicated that he was sexually attracted to children, but absolutely denied any involvement in physical matters,” he added.

Prior to his conviction, the controversial teacher wrote a children’s guidebook to Edinburgh in 2008, which he researched with children.

The guidebook, Edinburgh Unlocked, is a guide to the city for children and was researched with help from youngsters at his former primary school and a Cub Scout pack.