Roman Catholic priest jailed over child pornography

A Roman Catholic priest has been jailed for eight months after admitting making indecent images of children.

At Durham Crown Court, John Terence Paul Shannon, 58, admitted 16 counts of making indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of a child.

He also admitted one charge of possession of an indecent photo or pseudo-photo of a child.

He was a priest in the Diocese of East Anglia and had taught at a County Durham seminary.

'Deplorable' abuse

Shannon, of Church Street, Guilden Morden, Hertfordshire, was a member of teaching staff at St Cuthbert's Seminary, Ushaw College, County Durham. He was arrested in County Durham and charged in August 2010.

He was sentenced to eight months for each offence to run concurrently.

Shannon was also put on the sex offenders register for 10 years and disqualified from working with children indefinitely.

In a statement after the case, St Cuthbert's Seminary and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle said internet traffic within the college was monitored and led to police being informed.

They said Shannon was suspended and later resigned.

It said: "We are mindful that the images found in Father Shannon's possession were of children who should expect to be protected and not exploited.

"It is deplorable that abuse of children occurs at all and shocking that images of such abuse are available on the internet.

"To have such images viewed by anyone is regrettable. John Shannon is a priest and therefore in a position of trust, his actions in viewing and downloading such material cannot and should not be condoned or excused."

A statement from the Diocese of East Anglia said Shannon voluntarily withdrew from all active ministry following his arrest.

The Bishop of East Anglia, the Rt Rev Michael Evans, said: "Any form of abuse of children, including that involved in the production of indecent images, is something we cannot tolerate as Christians.

"Children are always damaged in some way by such abuse.

"I apologise profoundly that a priest of this diocese has been involved in this way."

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