A PRIMARY school teacher found with indecent images of young girls on his laptop has avoided jail.

But Paul Fort was told that if he committed any further offences his chances of walking free would be ‘minimal’.

Blackburn magistrates heard the offence had cost Fort, 51, his good name, his job and his marriage.

And they had led to a ‘social media storm’ of abuse towards the defendant.

Fort, of Westbourne Avenue South, Burnley, pleaded guilty to possessing four category B images and 26 category C images.

He was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison suspended for two years and made subject to a community order for the same period with 30 days’ rehabilitation.

He was made subject to notification requirements under the sex offenders register for seven years.

Parveen Akhtar, prosecuting, said Fort was a teacher at Rosewood Primary School in Burnley from where police had arrested him after receiving information about indecent images being downloaded.

Officers had been to Fort’s house first but he was not in when they arrived.

They seized mobile phones, laptops, disk drives and USB sticks from his work and home and found the images on a laptop which was in a wardrobe in a bedroom.

Miss Akhtar said the category B images were of young teenage girls engaging in non-penetrative sexual activity.

The category C images were of girls between 10 and 15 years of age posing nude and in a sexual manner.

Nick Cassidy, defending, said the public found this kind of offence abhorrent and this had been reflected by the 'social media storm' since the case was first reported.

“When he was arrested he was a married father of two with a full-time job and no previous convictions,” said Mr Cassidy.

“He and his wife of many years have now split because the pressure of this case has been too much.

"He will be formally sacked from his job.

"He knows he only has himself to blame."

Parent Julie Gourlay, 45, of Piccadilly Road, Burnley, described the sentence as ‘disgusting’.

She said: “I had two children who have left the school that were taught by him.

“I also have a 10-year-old who goes to the school but hasn’t been taught by him.

“I heard about this on Facebook and I’m unhappy with the school, as we weren’t notified about this until after he’d been charged.

“He taught for years and years at the school and always seemed like an all right man, but it just shows you don’t know people.

“The sentence is disgusting and he definitely should have been jailed.”

Another parent, who did not want to be named and has two children who attend the school, said: “I found out about this on Facebook as the school didn’t inform us straight away.

“He taught a lot of children and should definitely never be allowed to teach again. He should be struck off.”

Speaking after the hearing, Nerys Ditchburn-Hughes, headteacher at Rosewood Primary School, said: “I am aware that a member of staff has appeared in court and that the legal process has now concluded.

“The member of staff was suspended from school as soon as allegations came to light in October 2017.

“ I’d like to make it clear that none of these offences relate to pupils at our school.

“As always our key focus remains to provide our pupils with an excellent education.”

Lancashire County Council, which oversees the school as the local education authority, would not say if Fort had been sacked after his suspension.