12 March 2019
A former nursery manager has been sentenced for committing an online child sexual abuse offence, after a National Crime Agency investigation.
Alison Whateley, aged 44, from Farnham, Surrey, was present in an internet video conferencing room when child sexual abuse was shown.
On 29 August 2017 Whateley, using the username xxx, was in the online conferencing room when category A (the most serious) and category B child sexual abuse was being streamed.
She also made comments about the material to other users.
Investigators traced the xxx account to Whateley’s home.
Whateley was arrested on 26 September 2017, suspended from work and later dismissed. There was no evidence to suggest any material was made at nurseries Whateley had worked at or that she had been in sexual contact with any children.
After arrest, she was interviewed under caution and admitted using the xxx account. She also admitted having a !!! account.
NCA investigators found an audio recording in which Whateley was heard admitting to being a paedophile and expressing an interest in abusing very small children.
Whateley claimed she had been visiting the conference room for six months to entrap paedophiles.
But she had made no notes, passed no offenders’ details to law enforcement and had also deleted nearly all her phone’s contents.
She initially pleaded not guilty.
But on the eve of her trial at Guildford Crown Court last month she admitted encouraging the commission of an either way offence.
She was sentenced on Thursday to a 30-month community order and a 50-day rehabilitation order. She was put on the sex offenders register and given a five-year sexual harm prevention order.
A reporting restriction, which banned Whateley being named, was lifted yesterday.
Graham Ellis, NCA operations manager, said: “The sharing of both live and recorded child abuse on web based platforms is a growing threat.
“Behind every image is a child who has been abused or is still being abused and their protection is at the centre of everything we do.”
Alison Cartmell, specialist prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "We work tirelessly with partners such as the NCA to make sure those involved in child abuse of any kind are prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
Whateley was a senior manager at Bushy Tails Nursery in Teddington near London and also worked for the same company at Hampton Wick Nursery and two other nurseries: one in Teddington and one in Twickenham, London, which is now closed.
After her arrest she was suspended and later dismissed.
The NCA, former employer, and Achieving for Children - which runs the local authority’s children’s services - worked together to address safeguarding concerns and inform parents with children at the nurseries about the operation.
Letters were sent to parents, public meetings were held and NCA officers made themselves available for private discussions with parents.
Child protection charity The Lucy Faithfull Foundation runs the Stop It Now! helpline which offers confidential advice to anyone concerned about their own or someone else’s behaviour towards children.