The Manchester Evening News has reported that James Hoyle, 31, a former director of the Fylde Coast based Happy Days chain of nurseries had more than 200 child abuse images on a computer hard drive. Hoyle was a director of the Happy Days chain of nurseries at the time of his offending, but Manchester Crown Court heard he has since resigned his post. According to the Happy Days website, the chain has six nurseries across the Fylde coast, including one setting at Ansdell. In Court, Hoyle, of Crossway, Didsbury, pleaded guilty to two counts of making indecent images of children.
Prosecuting, Daniel Calder said that an analysis of the hard drive seized from Hoyle’s Didsbury home found 217 indecent images. They were mostly of category C, the least serious category. In some images, the child appeared to be aged between 13 and 15, the court was told. Prosecutors said Hoyle had used ‘anti-forensic measures’ to remove internet browsing history. He had also used ‘virtual devices’, which suggested he wanted to use the internet without being identified.
Manchester Crown Court also heard that two pairs of underwear were also found by police in a computer desk drawer, where the hard drive which contained indecent images was stored. In a witness statement, Hoyle’s girlfriend said the underwear was hers. But Judge Anthony Cross QC said: ‘I am not going to accept that they are there for innocent purposes.’
In an interview with police, Hoyle made a prepared statement which said he had ‘mental health issues which require therapy and investigation’.
James Hoyle, who had no previous convictions, was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 12 months. Judge Anthony Cross QC said there was ‘significant’ mitigation in the case, which allowed him to spare Hoyle jail. However, Hoyle was ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work, 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days and a program addressing sexual offending on the internet.
Speaking to Lancashire Live following the court hearing, James Hoyle’s father – Happy Days secretary and director David Hoyle – said his son was registered as a director for ‘financial purposes’. He said: ‘James was a director for financial purposes. He had no involvement in the nursery side of the business. As soon as the allegations were made we terminated his directorship. He had no contact with the children. He has lived in Manchester for around the last 11 years. He had no access to computer systems. In terms of children’s welfare, there was nothing he could do to impact that. James made a mistake and unfortunately he has to live with that now.
According to Companies House, James Hoyle resigned as director at Happy Days on April 6, 2019. He had been in the position since April 30, 2014.