Head sobs in dock as he is jailed

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A DISGRACED former headteacher sobbed in the dock as he was sentenced to 15 months in jail for downloading and distributing hundreds of sick pornographic images of children.

Father-of-two Peter Croft, 43, from Chorley, was jailed at Preston Crown Court after pleading guilty to 21 counts of making, possessing and distributing more than 900 vile images of children.

The court heard the vast majority of images, some of which included sadistic acts committed against children as young as three, involved young boys.

Croft, who was working as the headteacher of The Willows RC Primary School in Kirkham at the time of his arresr, wept uncontrollably when his barrister Alan Wolstenholme read out statements of support from family members.

Passing sentence, Judge Simon Newell said the some of the images showed ‘very young’ children being raped in the most ‘disgusting and violent ways’ often being left ‘permanently’ injured.

He told Croft: “You and people like you are the cause of the abuse of these children.”

Croft’s seedy double life first came to the fore in September when his home in Yew Tree Close was raided by police after his internet activity was flagged up by an international child porn investigation.

He was originally charged with three offences but 18 extra charges were added later.

When police raided his home, he told officers: “I am relieved in some ways so I can get help.”

Mr Wolstenholme, defending, said: “(Croft) has not merely fallen from grace he has plummeted headlong into a world of shame and humiliation.”

However, he urged the judge not to impose a prison sentence saying his “vulnerable” and “emotional” disposition would be exploited by other inmates.

Judge Newell rejected the claim in jailing Croft. He was also banned from working with children for life and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.

Croft was suspended from his position as headteacher after his arrest and later resigned.

Judge Newell stressed no children from the school were directly involved, but said Croft’s arrest caused distress.