Published: 06:00, 15 January 2020
| Updated: 16:21, 16 January 2020
The manager of a nursery who admitted in an internet chatroom to being sexually "turned on" by children has been handed a suspended jail sentence.
Sam Mummery, formerly of Clifton Walk, Dartford, made the admission during an online conversation with an undercover policeman.
He was sacked from his job as a nursery manager after the discovery of moving and still images on his home computer, which involved children as young as 18 months.
But a judge at Maidstone Crown Court heard none of the photographs found on his computers involved any of the youngsters at the Essex nursery where he worked, which wasn't named during his sentencing hearing.
Gordon Ross, prosecuting, told the court: "When he was visited by police he was the manager of a day nursery in Essex which catered for children aged between three months and five years."
Judge Stephen Thomas asked: "Is there any evidence of any link with his employment and these images?"
Mr Ross replied: "Not that I have been made aware of."
The judge added: "So the parents of the children (at the nursery) can rest assured that none of the images relate to any of the children."
The court heard Mummery's partner ended their relationship after discovering his secret perversion.
He later told his barrister Keith Yardy she was "better off without him and he regrets the hurt he had caused her".
The prosecutor said among the images, which a forensic search of Mummery's home computer revealed, were at the most serious level.
They were found on a hard drive and he had used his laptop to search for child images.
"In one chat he told the officer that he liked "them right up until their early teens" - prosecutor Gordon Ross
"Mr Ross said they were found in an area of the computer which could no longer be accessed by users without the relevant specialist software.
"The prosecutor said Mummery came to the attention of the police because he had been engaging in online sexual chat about children with an undercover police officer from December 2018 until January last year on a photo-sharing website called 'Littlepanties'.
"In one chat he told the officer that he liked "them right up until their early teens"
The email address Mummery was using was traced to his home.
Mummery was arrested at work and in a police interview he admitted to having sexual thoughts about children but claimed he wouldn't act upon those feelings.
Since his arrest he had been to his GP to seek help with his sexual problems.
He admitted possessing child sex images and was given a 10-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months and ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work for the community and pay £425 court costs.
Judge Thomas told him: "You have come exceedingly close to going to prison, make no mistake if any of those images had been connected to your work, you would have faced a substantial immediate jail sentence."
He was made subject to a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years and will not be allowed to work with children in the future.
More by this authorPaul Hooper