‘I’m not a danger to children’

Bernard Swift
Bernard Swift

A CONVICTED child porn pervert has declared “I’m not a danger to children” as he still tried to mask his sordid shame.

Bernard Swift was jailed for four months after admitting making and having sickening indecent images of children on his computer.

During his sentencing hearing the court heard how the former primary school governor got “sexual gratification” from looking at images of girls as young as eight being abused.

But after being released from prison, granddad Swift, 53, spoke to the Mail as he was leaving Hartlepool under a wave of protest over his possible return and pleaded for sympathy over his crime.

Swift, who is registered disabled, claimed:

l He was no danger to children;

l He only looked at the images out of “curiosity” and was not “attracted” to youngsters;

l Pleaded for help to prove he was no risk;

l Said he only ever wanted to “protect” kids.

He then sobbed that his life was in “ruins” and had been left broke, had lost his benefits, his home, will never be able to see his grandchildren again, his 26-year marriage is over and he has been forced to leave the town.

He told the Mail: “I admitted what I admitted – but I’m not a danger to children. I would never lay a finger on children.

“I’m not attracted to kids, I just started to view the pictures out of curiosity. I know it was wrong and I admit I did go back. As soon as I saw them I deleted them, but they were found on the hard drive.

“I need help with this, I need help to prove I’m not a risk or a danger to children. I became a school governor to protect children.”

Retired storeman Swift first hit the headlines in 1997 when a campaign was launched to save the life of his youngest daughter.

Seriously-ill Christine, then five, was suffering from leukaemia and an appeal was launched to find a bone marrow donor.

Her sister, Elaine, was found to be a 400-1 match and a successful transplant saved Christine’s life.

But tragedy again struck the family in 2001 when Elaine took an overdose amid claims of bullying at school.

Medics performed a liver transplant – but a desperate bid to save her life failed.

Swift made a plea calling for more to be done to protect children from abuse – but the schools were cleared of any wrong doing over the claims.

And then the once campaigner and governor became vilified by the community when the child porn allegations came to light when his home was raided in 2008.

Swift eventually pleaded guilty to the charges and was jailed in June.

But on his pending release a protest was launched by residents around his home in Lancaster road, Hartlepool, fearing he would return.

His wife, Fiona, 47, then left the family home after it was vandalised and then lied to the Mail that she would visit her husband in hospital to tell him their marriage was over - even though he was already at home and sheltered under the same roof.

She later apologised for her lies - but was adamant she had now turned her back on her husband.

Today Swift said he “regretted” his actions and was “remorseful”.

Sobbing, he said; “I do feel remorse and I regret every day what I did. I’ve been in prison, I’m broke, I’ve lost my home, I can’t see my grandchildren – they won’t let me. I’ve lost my wife. She is disgusted by what happened.

“It was my responsibility – but I’ve lost everything.

“There was a kangaroo court when I was released from prison and because of the kangaroo judgement I have been forced to leave the town – but I will come back.”

When finally asked about the impact his actions had on the lives of the children in the pictures he downloaded, Swift added finally: “I know it was wrong and I wouldn’t want to see kids hurt in any way. I was just curious. I was mixed up. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I apologise and I hope the people of Hartlepool can forgive me one day for what I’ve done – but it’s time to go.”

Swift now claims he and his wife have left Hartlepool to start separate lives together.