Social worker jailed for 6 weeks

ANGRY parents have condemned as "laughable" a six week jail term handed to a South Yorkshire social worker who had an album of child porn on personal computers.

Michael David Tombs, who ran his own childcare company as well as working for Doncaster Council before he was arrested, has also been banned from working with children again. He was previously a school governor in Thorne.

Tombs, a 33-year-old bachelor, had pleaded guilty to five counts of possessing indecent images of children.

Doncaster Crown Court heard hundreds of indecent images of children were found on computer equipment owned by Tombs at his home in Lockwood Road, Thorne, following a police raid.

Officers also recovered a laptop he had given to a 14-year-old girl from which he had deleted many more pornographic pictures of children but police experts were able to retrieve them.

His mother and stepfather work in childcare with North Lincolnshire Council and were suspended until their computers were found to be clear.

Passing sentence, Recorder Andrew Campbell, QC, said it was quite clear Tombs was viewing the pornography for his own sexual gratification but he was still a part of the machinery of child exploitation.

At the time of the offences, between May 2006 and April last year, Tombs was working as a sessional child support worker with Doncaster Council and had also won contracts for his company, Michael Tombs Childcare Services, to train other childcare workers.

The court was told there was no evidence of any improper conduct with the children in his care.

After the hearing Keith Cheshire, whose 15-year-old physically and mentally disabled daughter was cared for by Tombs, said he had "got away with it" and described the sentence as "laughable".

He added: "It's absolutely disgusting. He was put in a position of trust and has abused that trust. The sentence is a farce and he can get on with his life when he comes out in a few weeks."

He said: "None of the parents whose children he worked with have received a phone call from Doncaster Council to forewarn people that this was going to happen or to reassure us. We should have been told because we have to speak on behalf of our children.

Richard Haigh, defending, said his client had worked hard to build up his childcare qualifications and his career seemed quite rosy until police swooped.

He said: "At that point his world fell apart, he withdrew his nomination as Labour candidate in elections and notified all the agencies he had been working for."

A statement from Doncaster Children's Services said: "We made stringent checks on Michael Tombs and there was no way anyone could have known about this hidden side of his character."

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