A FORMER Southampton teacher and Hamble parish councillor was today sentenced for making and possessing hundreds of indecent images of boys.

Eliot Easterby, 44, was given a three year community order when he appeared for sentence at Southampton Crown Court following his conviction last month.

Jurors had heard how police armed with a search warrant arrived at his home at 6.45am on January 22 last year, following a tip off from Canadian police as part of a major international operation.

In a four and a half hour search, they found ten DVDs and examined his computer, a hard drive and three memory sticks on which they discovered almost 700 images.

Almost 300 had been viewed on the computer but deleted. Another 374 had been downloaded and stored.

The prosecution accepted the images were of the least serious category.

DVDs included Water Wiggles and More Water Wiggles, showing boys cavorting in paddling pools.

They also discovered a hoard of boys underwear beneath his bed, which had been left behind when he took scouts on trips as leader of Hamble Sea Scouts.

It took jurors less an hour to convict Easterby, who taught maths at Sholing Technology College and has written teenage ghost stories, guilty on 13 counts of possessing and making indecent images and not guilty of one other charge.

He had denied all the allegations.

Passing sentence today, Judge Peter Henry said the jury had in his opinion quite rightly convicted him of the charges that involved boys aged between 8 and 15.

Daily Echo:

Eliot Easterby at Southampton Crown Court

"The question was whether they considered them indecent. I have to say it was a wholly unrealistic proposition.

"You say you have no sexual attraction to boys. That is a matter of some concern because all the images of the boys linger on the area of genitalia.

"These boys are victims, filmed for the sexual gratification of you and others. It is not a victimless crime."

The judge stressed there was no evidence of any sexual contact with children and said he had to sentence Easterby not only to punish him but seek to protect the public.

"The best way of achieving that is to pass a community order."

Easterby, of Barton Drive, Hamble, was given a ten year sexual offences prevention order restricting his use of the Internet and having no contact with boys under 16 without their parents or guardians consent.

He was also placed on the sex offenders register for seven years and ordered to attend a sex offender treatment course.

In mitigation, Sarah Jones said Easterby felt he had been sucked into looking at one image and then another and had lost track of where he was.

She urged the court to pass the community order which would best serve him and others around him rather than sending him to jail which would provide nothing for him.