A primary school headteacher in England who used a spy pen to film youngsters and adults using the toilet has been jailed for more than two years.
Ashley Yates, 45, had become so obsessed with “urination pornography” that he covertly hid a James Bond-style camera pen in toilets at his school.
The married father-of-two used the device to record nine boys and girls, as well as adults, using a lavatory at The Tynings Primary School in Staple Hill, Bristol.
Yates had been head of the school since 2008 having worked there since 2005.
Bristol Crown Court was told that his career was now over, his marriage was in tatters and seeing his children would be difficult.
Yates, who cried throughout the hearing, is now seeking help from Sex Addicts Anonymous and wishes to see a therapist to overcome his perversions.
Kerry Barker, prosecuting, told the court that Yates’s world came crashing down on Friday June 24 this year when a pupil found the spy pen in the toilet and handed it to a member of staff.
They passed it to the caretaker who spotted that the pen contained a lens and microchip and reported the matter to the deputy head.
The deputy head confronted Yates on the following Monday and he confessed he had put the spy pen in the toilet and filmed people using the facilities.
“He also said that following an operation in which he had suffered a perforated bladder he had become obsessed with urination,” Mr Barker said.
“His intention had been to film adults, not children, but he understood that he would have picked up children using the toilet.”
Meanwhile, Yates had come clean to his wife about his interest in urination pornography but had denied the spy pen belonged to him.
He told her: “I f***** up everything. I’ve destroyed everything I love and worked for.”
Mr Barker told the court: “On Saturday night Mr Yates’s emotional condition deteriorated. He described himself as a sexual monster and his wife suspected he had had a psychotic breakdown.
“He told his wife the pen was his and that he had placed it in the disabled toilet at school.”
The following day Yates destroyed several hard drives and discs from computers at his home, which have been so badly damaged IT experts have not been able to recover the contents.
The court heard that the spy pen was able to record for 15 minutes and on the memory card scientists found images of children using the disabled toilet.
“Examination of a USB memory stick found in Mr Yates’s office contained a number of files showing 22 different adults using various toilets in the school,” Mr Barker said.
“A later discovery was that of a key logger attached to a keyboard in Mr Yates’s office.
“This is a device which covertly records the key strokes used so that, for example, a person’s login and password can be discovered.”
The court heard that Yates had used the device to log onto the social media accounts, including Facebook, of two children.
“Why Mr Yates accessed those social media accounts is not known,” Mr Barker said.
“It is quite apparent from the investigation that Mr Yates has a knowledge of how computers and their associated software work that is well beyond that of most computer users.
“Over two million images have been viewed by the investigating police officers who have taken great care to reassure parents of children who attend the school that there are no further indecent or inappropriate images of their children on the computers and associated devices to which they have had access.”
Yates, of Clyde Grove, Filton, Bristol, pleaded guilty to three charges of making indecent photographs of children, six charges of voyeurism and two charges of securing unauthorised access to a computer.
David Scutt, defending, said Yates had developed an interest in adults going to the toilet after undergoing an operation on his bladder and having a catheter fitted.
“He will never work in the profession he has loved ever again,” he said.
“Mr Yates has never had any sort of sexual interest in children. On the day in question he acted compulsively and recklessly and without thinking.
“He accepts he had an unhealthy interest which developed into a sexual interest in toilets and going to the loo.
“When it got to the point of his own self-loathing he was unable to speak to anyone.
“He went from being happy, successful and hard-working to someone who is very depressed and overwhelmed by the pressures of life.
“He is as he puts it, in hell. These were unforgivable actions. He is remorseful in the extreme.”
The court heard that in references Yates had been described as an “inspirational head” and was a dedicated teacher.
Jailing Yates for two years and eight months, Judge Michael Longman said he had betrayed the trust placed in him.
“As head teacher you were trusted by children, by their parents and families, by teachers and staff and no doubt other relevant authorities,” he said.
“Your behaviour in relation to these offences was the most grave breach of trust. As head you would have had the run of the school and you could access all areas unquestioned.
“In pursuit of your own sexual interest you acquired a camera pen and placed it in the toilets used by adults and on one occasion a toilet used by children and adults.
“The victims of your voyeuristic behaviour were all people that trusted you and it is only when you lost that pen that these offences came to light.
“Your behaviour was deliberate and devious and continued until you were about to be found out.
“It is not suggested that you had a sexual interest in filming those with disabilities, rather that toilet was used by a wide variety of people, including adults and children. I accept your interest was in adults rather than children.”
Yates was placed on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years and made subject of a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years.
The judge also ordered the destruction of the spy pen, key logger and certain pieces of computer equipment.
As Yates was led away, he told the judge: “Thank you, Your Honour.”
Speaking afterwards, Detective Inspector Louise Boyce said: “Yates totally abused his position of trust to feed his own personal desires.
“He set up the recording device in a toilet knowing that both children and adults would be using the facilities.
“A number of his victims were young children; they were also in school – a place where they should feel totally safe and protected.
“I have no doubt that Yates’s crimes will have a lasting impact on his victims and their parents.
“All have received specialised support and will continue to do so as long as they require it.”
A South Gloucestershire Council spokesman said: “No previous concerns about his conduct had been reported to us and it is important to stress that he acted alone and his crimes have been dealt with by the justice system.
“He was suspended from The Tynings Primary School immediately the allegations came to light and has not returned to school since.
“An acting head was appointed to lead the school while the police investigation was carried out.
“The acting head remains in post while his future employment status is being dealt with.
“We are continuing to work closely with the school to ensure that pupils, parents and staff are being supported when the new school term begins in September.”