AN Academy trust blocked former colleagues of a paedophile headteacher from giving statements about him in court.

The Hearts Academy Trust, which runs Hilltop Infant School, in Wickford, where Daniel Chapman served as headteacher, denied any members of staff from associating with the convicted paedophile.

At Chapman’s sentencing yesterday, Kevin Toomey, mitigating, told Judge Patricia Lynch: “The trust have prevented them [his colleagues] from having anything to do with him, and barred them from providing statements, even though many expressed wishes to do so.”

READ: The face of the paedophile headteacher sent to jail for more than two years

The Echo asked the trust to comment further on the decision.

In response, they issued this statement, which read: “Mr Chapman no longer works for Hilltop Infant school. We are pleased that the criminal investigation process is now completed.

“We would like to thank the Hilltop parent community and staff for their patience and dignity during this difficult time. We know how stressful this has been for everyone.

“We also would like to thank the police and the local authority safeguarding services for their advice and help.

“All agencies have worked very effectively together to ensure the safety of our pupils and the wellbeing of our families and staff. “

Chapman was charged after an investigation took place over six months into his wrongdoings, including a search of his house and seizing several electronic devices, where the child abuse images, obscene messages and animal pornography was found.

Judge Lynch said that he “knew full well” the damage the images he shared would cause to the children in the photos. None of the images featured children at the school.

Investigating Officer Det. Con. Nick Riley said: “Daniel Chapman had taken it upon himself to become a safeguarding champion for the school, whilst he was simultaneously involved in activities which promoted the abuse of children, some of who were of a similar age to those he was meant to be safeguarding.

“He portrayed himself as a respectable head teacher, however was found to have been using messaging applications and social media to engage in making, possessing and publishing incident images of children as young as four.

“This six month investigation involved some of the most horrific social media messaging concerning child abuse that I had ever investigated and I am therefore delighted that this individual is now paying the price for his appalling actions.

“Every time an indecent image of a child is viewed, it re-victimises that child over and over again.

“Anyone who accesses indecent images of children provides the need for these images to be created in the first place. They are not just images online, they are real children being abused.

“Essex Police will do everything it can to identify offenders and bring them to justice. I would like to thank all those involved in bringing this offender to justice.” Chapman will never work with children again.