SIMON Ryan’s life nose dived after he was convicted of four charges of making indecent images of children – resulting in him being slapped with a 12 month jail term suspended for two years.
With the 48-year-old working as a site manager at Woodcroft Primary School in Waterlooville, the offences sent alarm bells ringing at the school – leading to him being suspended from his post after a ‘safeguarding issue’ had come to light.
But despite his freedom being put on knife edge after his crimes between July 2013 and April 2017, Ryan still went on to exploit his position at the school and commit fraud.
Ryan admitted fraudulently carrying out £10,000 worth of lavish purchases using an Amazon gift card he was only meant to use in the course of his work between April 2017 and February 2018.
But despite his plethora of illegally purchased items, the offender, who is in £20,000 of debt and has been the victim of vigilante attacks after his offences came to light, avoided a jail term. He pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud at the expense of the Hampshire County Council-funded school.
It was also decided he will not have to pay back a penny of the money he took.
Armed with a bag as he entered the dock at Portsmouth Crown Court for his sentence, Ryan was evidently prepared for a stint behind bars.
Prosecutor Martyn Booth told the court, the county council was left out of pocket by nearly £12,000 after an audit investigation was conducted over 13 days which flagged up the extent of his fraudulent activity.
He said: ‘There was a broad range of items that were being bought using the Amazon card. Some of these were luxury items and included things such as electrical goods, Hugo Boss T-shirts and Fit Bit accessories. Some of the items were more practical and included things like garden equipment.
‘There were in excess of 130 items that were purchased or were sought to be purchased.’
After his police arrest, Ryan said he bought the items to win over people who had ‘ostracised’ him after his conviction for making indecent images of children.
Mr Booth said: ‘His convictions for the child pornography had caused him to be ostracised by family and friends. He made the purchases as gifts to regain the support of those who had turned against him.’
But despite being suspended from his post, Ryan carried on using the Amazon card for his own ends – even continuing to do so after he resigned from his role in September 2017.
Ryan’s barrister Bridget O’Hagan said the defendant had been trying to make amends following his spree of offending but was struggling after he had been dealt a number of blows.
She said: ‘Mr Ryan has lost another job and his home. He has no income or assets and is in debt of £20,000. He has been ostracised by his family and friends and is a man who has reached rock bottom.’
Ms O’Hagan added: ‘There have been vigilante attacks on him and there has been hounding on social media as a result of the coverage.’
Judge David Melville QC told Ryan, of Kilmeston Close, Havant, his offending was a serious ‘abuse of trust’ that would have resulted in immediate custody had he not pleaded guilty.
Despite an earlier court hearing stating Ryan was in breach of his suspended sentence for making indecent images of children, it was revealed this was not in fact the case at his sentencing.
It meant Ryan was given another suspended sentence of 12 months suspended for two years. He will also have to complete 150 hours of unpaid work.
Judge Melville told Ryan it ‘would be wrong’ for him to pay any costs or compensation.