A man fallen steeply from grace

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A high-flying schools inspector who admitted perverted online exchanges with young boys and downloading indecent images was jailed for two years today (Wednesday).

Adam Higgins, 48, a former £75,000-a-year Ofsted inspector, of Maypole Close, Saffron Walden, was told by Judge Patricia Lynch at Chelmsford Crown Court: “You have destroyed your life. You have destroyed your family’s life.”

In addition to jailing, Higgins, who pleaded guilty to one offence of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity and two of downloading indecent images, the judge imposed an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

Higgins, who appeared before a hushed court, wearing a grey suit, turquoise shirt and blue tie, showed no reaction as he was sentenced and led away from the dock. His family, present in court, were “standing by him”, the judge was told.

He has reportedly in the past inspected a school where Prince Charles studied and others that were attended by celebrities such as Lily Allen.

After he pleaded guilty last month, Ofsted wrote to many schools apologising that a paedophile had visited their premises.

Higgins was caught in possession of 89 moving images – with 39 at level A, 48 at level B and 2 at level C – and one photograph at level B when police raided his home last year. He is understood to have been involved in Skyping young boys over a two-year period.

After losing his Ofsted job, he obtained a £14,000-a-year post in banking, but after the case was reported in the press, his employment was terminated and his wife has also lost her job as a teaching assistant.

Samantha Lowther, prosecuting, told the court: “A search warrant was executed on September 7, 2014 at his address after information was received by Essex Police, and the images were discovered in a Dropbox account.

“Images showed boys aged six to 16. A family iPad contained chat with boys using false names, with evidence of video calls involving masturbation and comments from Higgins such as ‘Love you, (signed) paedo’ and ‘My paedo cock wants your young body’.

“He also says ‘Tell me about being a young boy and your body’ and later Skype chat referring to a ‘sweet boy’ and ‘nice sexy boy’, and him being referred to as ‘sexy daddy’.

“There was also reference to his wife not needing to know about his business.”

Miss Lowther said that before he worked for Ofsted Higgins was a school head for several years and a teacher for 12 years before that.

Richard Potts, mitigating, said: “He’s a man fallen steeply from grace in a respected and trusted occupation.”

But Judge Lynch responded: “When they cross the line, they cross the line.”

Earlier, she said: “The difficulty with downloading child porn is that those who watch it don’t realise they are real children – you fall into a different category. Not only were you viewing, you went further and contacted five boys and engaged in sexual interaction with children for two years.

“Those who involve themselves in sexual interaction with children do so at their peril. You knew it was children and went ahead with proactive sexual activity. This is a serious matter, nothing less than a custodial sentence will do.”

After the sentencing, Det Insp Daniel Stoten, of Essex Police’s Crime and Public Protection Command, said: “I welcome the fact that from today, thanks to the hard work and dedication of my officers, Higgins will be behind bars where he belongs.

“This man held a position of trust which makes the fact that he was making indecent images of children and grooming a young boy online even more despicable.

“We conducted a thorough investigation and have found no further evidence other than the offences for which he was charged.

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