Ex-Rugby Scout leader spared jail after downloading indecent images of children

A disgraced former teacher and Scout leader from Rugby escaped being jailed for downloading hundreds of indecent images of young boys yesterday (Monday, April 10).

Tuesday, 11th April 2017, 7:55 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:10 pm
James Stuttard, 32, of Meadow Furlong, Rugby, leaves Warwick Crown Court after being sentenced over downloading hundreds of indecent pictures of children. Photo: Paul Beard NNL-171104-085038001

James Stuttard was spared further prison time as he had been remanded in custody since January because he was considered to be a ‘flight risk’ after applying for a job abroad.

The 32-year-old, of Meadow Furlong, was a teacher at Spratton Hall private school near Northampton until his arrest in January and pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to three charges of making indecent images of children.

He was sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for 18 months, with 30 days of rehabilitation activity, and ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work.

The one-time scout leader in Rugby, who gained national newspaper coverage after introducing the ‘fitness activity badge’ for Beaver Scouts, was ordered to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

Judge Richard Griffith-Jones also made him subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for seven years, under which, among other restrictions, he is banned from doing any paid or voluntary work that brings him into contact with children.

Prosecutor Jason Pegg said Stuttard ‘is a teacher and also takes part in voluntary work as a scout leader,’ and was of previous good character.

“But the authorities became suspicious about his computer usage, and went to his home in Meadow Furlong.”

When officers told him why they were there, Stuttard immediately said there was a computer on the top floor of the house, and a laptop by his bed – and both of them had images of children on them.

He was arrested and cautioned, but answered ‘no comment’ to questions when he was interviewed, although he did provide the police with the necessary passwords to access the computers.

Hi-tech officers examined Stuttard’s two Apple laptops, a tablet, and SD card and a memory stick, all of which had images on them, predominantly of boys aged 10 to 12, said Mr Pegg.

There were 10 category A images of boys being subjected to penetrative sex acts, with a further 108 similar inaccessible images which had been deleted but remained on the hard drive.

In addition there were 50 inaccessible category B images, defined as showing children being subjected to non-penetrative sex acts, and 139 images and 549 inaccessible images in category C, showing boys in naked or indecent poses, added Mr Pegg.

Jonathan Coode, defending, pointed out Stuttard had been remanded in custody since his arrest on January 5, which he said was the equivalent of a sentence of six and a half months.

Of the reason for his remand in custody, despite being of previous good character, Mr Coode explained: “My understanding was that because he had applied for a job overseas, he was believed to be a flight risk.”

Judge Griffith-Jones said he had read testimonials which had been handed in, and commented: “It is a tragedy, because he would have been a very good teacher.”

Mr Coode said Stuttard came from a respectable family, but ‘did not have the best start in life’ because he suffered from profound dyslexia, but managed to battle his way through school and then through university.

“He got to the heights of being a head of department at an extremely respectable preparatory school.”

But he became ‘burdened by the enormous responsibility and stress’ of his role at the school, Spratton Hall School in the village of Spratton, and it got to him.

In 2014 a close friend committed suicide, and he became fixated with that and began having similar thoughts himself, said Mr Coode.

It was at that time that, disinhibited through drink, he began looking at the images, becoming disgusted with himself afterwards and erasing them.

The judge observed: “He does admit to some sexual attraction for that age and that gender.”

Mr Coode added Stuttard had found HMP Hewell ‘an extremely unpleasant environment,’ and Judge Griffith-Jones said: “He will not be going back there.”

He explained that the sentencing guideline for the offence was a 12-month sentence, which would be reduced to eight month because of his guilty plea – and he had already served the equivalent of six-and-a-half months.

Sentencing Stuttard, Judge Griffith-Jones told him: “You are still a young man, you are an intelligent man, and you can’t help the way you feel and the way you are made. But you can help the way you behave.

“As a consequence of what you have done, you have ruined an obvious career choice for yourself.

“You have got talents, and you will have to apply them to other purposes.

“The fact that you have been in custody for some time now enables me to take a course which doesn’t involve you serving any more.”