A FORMER faculty head at Coventry University’s Department of Industrial Design has been caught with more than 700 sexual images of children on his home computers.
Michael Tovey, who was Professor of Industrial Design and Reader in Design Pedagogy at the university, has pleaded guilty to three charges of making indecent images of children.
Tovey, who was Dean of the Coventry School of Art and Design for 18 years, also admitted possessing prohibited images of children and possessing extreme pornography.
Now retired, the 73-year-old, of Russell Terrace, Leamington, was given a two-year community order by a judge at Warwick Crown Court, with a condition of undertaking a Maps for Change programme as part of a rehabilitation activity.
He was also ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid work, to pay £340 costs and to register as a sex offender for seven years.
Prosecutor Ian Ball said in March 2018 the police received information which led to them executing a search warrant at Tovey’s home at the time in The Spinney, Coventry.
They seized his MacBook and Apple laptops, together with an external hard drive.
And when he was questioned, before the devices had been examined, Tovey admitted he had looked at indecent images of children.
He also said he had distributed images, but Mr Ball pointed out there was no evidence he had actually done so – and although links had been set up, there was no evidence any images had been accessed as a result.
When the police subsequently examined the devices, they found 11 images, including one movie, in category A. There were a further 11 in category B, and 749 category C images of children in naked or indecent poses.
Among the more serious images was a movie showing a baby being sexually abused, and another of a seven or eight-year-old tied up and being subjected to a sex act, said Mr Ball.
There were also two drawings and one computer-generated image depicting children in sexual poses and 131 images of extreme pornography showing adult females in sex acts with animals.
When Tovey was questioned again, he gave a prepared statement in which he said he was ‘addressing the situation.’
Kevin Saunders, defending, said Tovey’s previous good character extended beyond having no previous convictions, and Dr Michael Goldstein, a former Coventry University vice-chancellor, described him as ‘an outstanding academic scholar and leader.’
“The great tragedy for this defendant is that a lifetime of achievement will for ever more be viewed with cynicism.
“This chapter of offending will mar all the good he did achieve in the years prior to this episode. His inevitable public shaming can be considered punitive of this case.”
Mr Saunders said despite his early admissions, Tovey had had the case ‘hanging over his head for nigh-on two years,’ and in that time had undertaken work with the Lucy Faithful Foundation to address the issues behind his offending.
Sentencing Tovey, Judge Peter Cooke told him: “It is a tragedy that a man of 73 years of age who had, certainly until his mid-60s, led an exemplary life should have blighted his later years with behaviour of this nature.
“You committed these offences when you were a retired university professor, living on a substantial pension, who could look back on a lifetime of achievement – not just personal achievement, but the achievement of helping and educating others.
“I think there is a great deal of force in the submission that the acute level of public shaming for a man who has lived as you had is a very punitive feature, as is the fact that it has taken two years before we arrive at this position.
“You had led a very busy life. A lot of people struggle with the change when retirement comes. You were isolated to a degree you were unfamiliar with, and you had too much time on your hands, and you fell into deeply unfortunate patterns of behaviour which crossed the boundary into becoming criminal.
“The prospects of you doing anything like this ever again are vanishingly low. I have concluded a just and proportionate sentence in this case is a community order.”