A FORMER Stafford schoolteacher who trained as a priest and worked with youngsters as a registered FA Football coach has been spared time behind bars after he was caught with over 4,500 indecent photographs and films of children.
Judge Robin Onions told 48 year old James Kennedy he "richly" deserved to go straight into custody but said his hands were tied by sentencing guidelines set by Parliament.
"People might say I have been unduly lenient but our powers are severely restricted by just what we can do," he told Kennedy at Wolverhampton Crown Court.
He said Kennedy, who left the priesthood because he wanted to start a family, it was clear, had now lost his career, his relationship had ended and he would never be able to work as a teacher or tutor for the rest of his life.
The Judge said he completely rejected the claim by Kennedy he had not had any sexual interest in the indecent images and he stressed it was something he had to accept if he was to make progress in the future.
Kennedy of Meadow Way, Stafford was found to have the images when police officers raided his former home in Wakes Close, Willenhall, near Wolverhampton, said Mr David Lees prosecuting.
He told the court investigators found 4,689 indecent photographs of children including a small number at level five - the worst category - together with 13 movies involving children.
Kennedy admitted seven charges of possessing the indecent photographs and films and a further two charges of distributing photographs and moving images.
He was given a three year Community Order with a condition he attends the Sex Offenders Group Programme and also made the subject of a five year Sex Offenders Protection Order.
The Judge also told him he must register as a Sex Offender for 5 years,he barred him for life from working with children and told him he must pay £340 costs.
Mr Lees said investigators also recovered from Kennedy's computer messages that were clearly of a sexual nature.
Mr Lewis Perry, defending, said Kennedy, a man of previous exemplary character, had worked hard in the teaching profession and was well thought of by people he had taught in the past.
He said the father of two was full of shame and remorse for his actions and added it was important for him to receive treatment to prevent any reoffending in the future.
The Judge told Kennedy society would be much better served if he was to be given support and assistance after he had played a part in the "cycle of abuse" of the children in the images.