Former Ballarat school staffer caught with 15,000 child porn images

A BALLARAT father and former employee of a local secondary school, caught with almost 15,000 child pornography images, mostly of young boys, also discussed grooming tactics with other online predators, a court has heard.

A covert police operation revealed in 2012 that Lee Terrence Clarke, 42, of Wendouree, was also in possession of 388 child pornography videos, many featuring young boys involved in sex acts with older men.

The County Court at Ballarat on Thursday heard Clarke, a father of two boys, had been the member of an online "peer to peer" file sharing network and that he shared his collection of child porn with 250 other users.

Commonwealth prosecutor Andrew Sprague said Clarke often discussed grooming techniques with other users.

Detailing some of Clarke's online discussions, Mr Sprague told the court of one occasion in which a fellow user commented on Clarke's large collection of child porn.

"It took a while to get it all, never stop trying," the court heard Clarke wrote to the user.

The court heard Clarke, who also worked with local youth in his role with the air force cadets, "preferred" boys between the age of 12 and 16, but that much of his collection included pre-teen boys and girls.

Clarke was arrested by Ballarat police on October 31, 2012, after Clarke let a covert officer access his child porn while online.

The court heard police quickly alerted the principal of the secondary school about Clarke's charges.

Defence barrister Michael Stanton said Clarke had been employed at the school since 2012, with his duties including a supervisory role on school camps.

Clarke pleaded guilty to charges of accessing child porn using a carriage service and making child porn available using a carriage service.

The defence barrister said Clarke initially told police he had no idea why he had engaged in such conduct, adding he made full admissions and was cooperative with investigators.

Mr Stanton said Clarke became exposed to pornography in 2011 while suffering relationship troubles, adding it was then that he "ultimately sought out child porn".

He said Clarke had since engaged in counselling with a psychologist, adding the offending had cost Clarke his career and second marriage.

Mr Stanton said Clarke had never tried to justify the offending.

Judge Frank Gucciardo will sentence Clarke on September 9.

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