A CHINESE student studying education at a Scots university has been jailed for downloading extreme child pornography.
Zhengxin Zhu, who paid £12,600 to take a Masters in education at Edinburgh University, collected more than 2,000 vile pictures and videos.
Some of the videos were “Level Five” – meaning they contained the most extreme content available.
A court was told Zhu never had unsupervised contact with children but it remains unclear whether the 23-year-old paedophile undertook school placements while on the course.
Zhu was jailed for eight months at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Tuesday after he pled guilty to two charges of downloading 1,816 obscene photographs of children and 245 obscene videos.
His visa will still be valid on his release next July and there are currently no known plans to deport him.
Zhu claimed he collected the images while living in Scotland because internet controls in his homeland prevented him doing so.
Edinburgh University refused to comment on his case on grounds of data protection.
But it is understood he underwent and passed a disclosure check provided by the Chinese authorities before starting the course.
The prosecution told the court that Zhu’s home in Drummond Street, Edinburgh, was raided on December 13 last year.
Zhu immediately admitted looking at images of children on his laptop and tablet computer.
Officers discovered five Level Five videos. The majority of videos and images he obtained over the internet were of boys between 18 months and 14 years old and a small number of images contained boys and girls aged between eight and 13.
The images and videos showed children engaged in sexual activity alone, with other children and with adults.
He also had 151 images and 158 videos at level four, and 320 images and 22 videos at level three.
He told officers: “In China we don’t get this. I just downloaded it and looked at them for a second – I didn’t want to hurt them – I didn’t spread it.”
His defence lawyer, Elspeth McPartlin, told the court: “He has already undertaken significant payback efforts for these offenses.
“In doing so he has reduced his risk of reoffending. He has showed contrition and shame throughout dealing with him for the best part of a year.
“He is very keen to make things right.”
But Sheriff Alistair Noble told Zhu he would serve eight months.
He said: “This is a case where prison cannot be avoided. The difficulty you face is the seriousness of the offenses to which you’ve pled guilty.”
A spokesman from Edinburgh University: “All students whose studies include professional placements must undergo disclosure checks.”
The university refused to comment further, citing data protection laws.
The masters degree Zhu was studying teaches education “as an ethical, intellectual and cultural process’.
Alison Todd, Chief Executive of CHILDREN 1ST, said: “It is important to remember the impact of this crime on children.
“Behind every image, there is a real child who has suffered abuse in the making of those photographs and films.
“People who download abusive images and films of children create demand for new ones which are supplied through the exploitation of children.”
A spokesman from the Scottish Conservatives said: “I imagine the University would kick him out as they wouldn’t want a rampant paedophile on campus. If they didn’t it would be an issue dealt with by the Home Office on a case-by-case basis.”
The HOme Office declined to comment.