Richard Clark was jailed for 12 years at York Crown Court
Richard Clark, 29, who was described by a judge as a ‘malign puppet master’ used fake digital accounts and contacted strangers on Skype in the UK, the United States and Nepal and incited them to take sexual images or abuse their siblings, children or grandchildren and record it for his own gratification.
In one case he contacted a 15-year-old boy and encouraged him to carry out sexual acts on his cousins, aged one and two.
Clark, of Topcliffe Road, Sowerby, near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to 26 offences, including 10 offences of arranging or facilitating child sex offences and 12 counts of inciting or causing indecent images of children, and asked for 54 others to be taken into consideration when he appeared at York Crown Court.
He also tricked boys at a school into taking indecent images or video of themselves, whilst using fake social media accounts in which he posed as a teenage girl.
The teacher also kept a record of his victims, categorising them based on their appearance, the size of their genitalia and comments about the ways that he had abused them.
A witness statement was read out in court from a mother of one of the boys in which she said he had “robbed them of their youth” and left them unable to trust male teachers.
A witness statement from the headteacher of the school where pupils were targeted said the school had employed school nurses, psychologists and counsellors to deal with the impact of Clark’s actions on students and teachers, but he feared some students would never recover from their ordeal. Others were likely to miss out on opportunities to go to high-ranking universities because of the emotional and mental ordeal they experienced prior to their exams.
Clark also pleaded guilty to three charges of possession of indecent photographs of a child and one of possession of an extreme pornographic image.
Judge Andrew Stubbs QC told Clark: “These offences reveal you to be manipulating others to abuse children like some kind of malign puppet master.
“You incited offences of familial or incestuous abuse against children. These activities have been traced worldwide.”
Judge Stubbs said his crimes revealed him to be a “persistent predator”, whose victims felt trapped by fear of exposure.
He added: “The victim statements which have been referred to in court show how you have robbed your victims of confidence, character and potential life chances.”
He handed him a sentence of 12 years, to spend a further eight years on licence. He was also given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, which he will remain on for the rest of his life.
In a statement released after the court case, Detective Chief Inspector Jim Glass, the senior investigating officer in the case, said: “This has been an extremely complex and challenging case, throughout which the identification and safeguarding of Richard Clark’s victims has been a priority.
Richard Clark appeared at York Crown Court
“Working with a number of partners including the Children’s Safeguarding Board, North Yorkshire County Council, Health and Social Care and the Crown Prosecution Service, we have ensured the best possible support for all those affected throughout this case.
“Clark abused his position of trust as a teacher, committing offences against pupils at the school he taught at as well as instigating offences nationally and internationally against children by use of the internet to hide his true identity.
“The inquiry continues to send out intelligence to other police forces and law enforcement agencies around the world in relation to additional victims and offenders’ details which have been identified.
“I would like to remind parents and carers of the need to ensure children are safe online. Please talk to them about the dangers and the importance of only talking to those they absolutely know are genuine, and to not do anything online that could threaten their safety, specifically as in this case, not to send sexual images of themselves.”
An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Clark’s despicable actions have devastated the lives of children across the world. This case, once again, highlights how imperative it is for the Government to force social networks to tackle online child abuse.
“The NSPCC’s Wild West Web campaign is calling for an independent regulator with the power to investigate and fine platforms which don’t do enough to catch groomers.”