A school teacher who likened his child porn habit to the collection of car magazines has admitted posing as a girl to elicit sexual photos and text-messages from boys.
Stuart McGowan also admitted photoshopping the faces of male students onto pornographic images, and downloading images and video footage of foreign children being abused.
McGowan, 50, pleaded guilty in Nelson District Court yesterday to multiple charges of possessing objectionable material and making objectionable material.
The name of the school he taught at was suppressed by Judge Tony Zohrab.
Police began investigating McGowan in September after someone raised concerns.
Searching his school laptop, police found hundreds of images of naked young males, prosecutor Graeme Eden told the court.
Police examined McGowan's personal computer, hard drives and memory sticks, and found thousands more images of naked adult men, young men, and children, Eden said.
Police found pornographic images that had been photoshopped to include the faces of some male students in a folder that was titled "dodgey".
Another folder, "TY", stood for "too young", and contained images of young children posing naked, and being explicitly sexually abused, as well as a video involving bestiality, Eden said.
He said McGowan admitted to police he bought a pre-paid cellphone and messaged male students, past and present, pretending to be a 16-year-old girl who had obtained their number from a friend.
He offered to send the boys pictures in exchange for sexual images. At least 10 individuals sent McGowan pictures of their genitals, which were recovered on his computer.
He also admitted using dialogue from the cellphone conversations to create short stories of a highly-sexualised nature, Eden said.
Eden said McGowan admitted having an addiction, and possessing a collection of more than 16,000 objectionable files. He told police he "likened it to someone who collects classic car magazines".
McGowan stood with his head bowed and eyes closed during most of the hearing yesterday.
Details of the school involved were suppressed, but parents have already received letters from police and the school board, explaining that McGowan was being investigated.
A school spokesperson declined to give Fairfax Media a copy of their letter.
"We would not feel comfortable providing a copy of any letters to parents due to suppression orders; however the school has kept the community well informed," the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said McGowan was stood down in September after an employment investigation.
"The school has worked closely with the Ministry of Education traumatic incident team to offer support for anyone needing this."
A person who has a child enrolled at the school said today that two letters had been received from the school, which were quite vague.
The parent said there had so far been very little talk of McGowan's offending in the community.
"He seemed like a nice enough guy."
Defence lawyer Michael Vesty applied for McGowan's name to be suppressed, but that was was denied by Judge Zohrab.
McGowan had no previous history of similar offending, Vesty said.
"He's been very upfront with police. He can't be criticised for that," he said.
He said McGowan intended to begin a process of restorative justice, through Auckland-based Project Restore.
Judge Zohrab said McGowan had admitted "very serious offending".
Possession of child pornography carried a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment, while making objectionable material carried a maximum 10-year penalty, he said.
"This is not a victimless crime," Judge Zohrab said.
He said downloading the images and video of sexual child abuse from overseas was particularly perverse.
Children around the world were only subjected to that kind of "perverse" violation because "there are people like you who are willing to download it", the judge told McGowan.
He was remanded on bail to the Nelson area, with his case set to be heard again on January 20.
- Fairfax Media
Have you changed power companies in the last year?Related story: Savvy swappers drive power prices down