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Formby man walks free from court after police found dozens of child abuse images on his phone

Mark Smith, also known as Mark Bocker was a former Merseyside headteacher, downloaded pictures of kids as young as eight being sexually abused.

Mark Smith, also known as Mark Bocker, worked in education for more than three decades, including in Knowsley, but was convicted of possession of indecent images earlier this year.

At his sentencing hearing, Liverpool Crown Court was told the 61-year-old changed his name very recently but the judge in the case confirmed the surname Bocker was the one he has used for the vast majority of his life.

Mark Smith, also known as Mark Bocker, was the headteacher of Oswaldtwistle School until 2015 and worked in education for more than three decades. He was originally a PE teacher but later moved into roles focusing on safeguarding and helping pupils with special educational needs. The 61-year-old was convicted of possession of indecent images earlier this year and sentenced on Wednesday (March 9).

Prosecutor Peter Hussey told Liverpool Crown Court that police were alerted in 2020 to indecent images being downloaded to a device. This was later traced to Smith, who was arrested and admitted possession of indecent images in February.

Mr Hussey said: “On just one of those devices, a Samsung, they were able to spot that there had been stored on that item some 82 indecent images of children ranging across Category A, B and C.”

Overall, 13 images fell into Category A, the most serious, while 23 were in Category B and 46 were in Category C. Mr Hussey added that in interviews with police Smith “alluded to suffering an event in previous years that led to a morbid fascination” with indecent images.

Lee Bonner, defending, said Smith was deeply remorseful for downloading the pictures and had already taken steps to try to address his behaviour and not offend again.

Mr Bonner said: “The defendant has contacted various counselling services such as Stop It Now. There are also screenshots showing completion of the eight online module short program.”

Judge David Swinnerton said Smith helped facilitate child abuse by downloading the pictures. He said: “It is a great pity that a man who has done a great deal for children in difficult circumstances finds himself before the court after looking at pictures of children being abused.

“It may seem remote to you because it is a picture - but each picture is a case of a child abuse that is taking place somewhere in the world. Those photos have been taken to feed a market and you are one of the customers for the worst type of content that the internet can provide.”

Judge Swinnerton said Smith’s motivation was at least partially sexual but added that showed genuine remorse and had clearly taken steps to address his behaviour.

Bocker, of Gores Lane, Formby, was handed a six month jail term, suspended for 18 months. He must also sign the sex offender’s register for seven years, was made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order for the same period of time and must also complete rehabilitation courses.

Original story and photo from Lancs Live



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