Ex-monk and headteacher admits having 5,000 indecent images of children
A FORMER monk and headteacher has pleaded guilty to six counts of making indecent images of children.
Gregory Miller, aged 80, also pleaded guilty at Plymouth Magistrates Court to an additional charge of possessing indecent images of children.
The court heard how computer technicians at Buckfast Abbey found the indecent images of children, aged seven to 13, on Miller's computer whilst implementing new policies.
Police arrested him on May 1 last year and after further inspection found more than 5,000 images of varying levels of seriousness on his computer system.
Prosecutor Gareth Warden said: "The computer was for his sole use.
"In interview he told police he had been looking at the images for the last six months."
He added that Miller had even edited the images placing different heads on the bodies.
Mr Warden said the pensioner admitted to police to having "always been interested in children" specifically young boys whose bodies he thought were "beautiful".
The court heard some of the images were downloaded from a Chinese website and that it was purely "fantasy" with no physical element.
Mr Warden added: "The majority of the images were level one or two but there are a number of other pictures at other levels."
Within Miller's computer system there were 4,661 level one images, 52 at level two, 26 at level three, eight at level four and nine at level five – the most serious. Further images were found deleted and in total it was said there were 45 level five pictures.
Miller was interviewed by police in Plymouth on May 1 and then requested a further interview on May 3.
Magistrates were told Miller joined the "brotherhood" in 1949. He had taught at various schools making it to headteacher before leaving at the age of 55.
He then moved into the abbey where he also worked as a librarian.
Miller is now living in Bristol at The Eye, Glass Wharf, as part of a Catholic community.
The case has been adjourned until April 10 for a probation report.
The monk in charge of Safeguarding at the abbey said: "It is good to know that the systems we have in place to detect and report any such activity are working, although we are appalled and saddened by the circumstances in which we have found this to be the case.
"As a community, we are dismayed. Above all else, the Abbey is a place of safety and of sanctuary, but by the same token we firmly believe that here, as in society as a whole, there is absolutely no place for this totally unacceptable behaviour.
"We have been betrayed by a colleague and are deeply ashamed of his actions, but nonetheless we will provide neither excuses, nor a hiding place, for anyone who breaks both the law of the land and that of the Church in this regard.
"We have the children and families of those involved in the pictures in our prayers and would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that if there is any child who needs help, they should contact Childline on 0800 1111."
Gary Gunby, formerly the Children's Service Manager for the NSPCC in Plymouth, is the Safeguarding Coordinator for the abbey. "I am pleased to be working with the Abbey at this difficult time and I hope to build on the good work which the abbey has already established in the safeguarding field in close co-operation with the statutory authorities."
After discussion with the Abbot and other monks of the community, it was agreed Gregory Miller's behaviour was "incompatible" with him continuing to be a monk.
He no longer resides at the abbey, having left at the end of 2012, and has ceased to be a member of the monastic community.