A former teacher’s sickening child abuse material “fixation” may have been fuelled by a serious drug habit and his own sexual abuse, a court has heard.
A former teacher’s sickening child abuse material “fixation” may have been fuelled by a serious drug habit and his own sexual abuse, a court has heard.

‘I lit up’: Teacher’s shock child abuse material admission

WARNING: Graphic

The former head of an exclusive Sydney school's swimming program told a psychologist he "lit up" the first time he saw child abuse material, likening the rush he felt to a hit of ice, a court has heard.

But Nick Warby's barrister told his sentencing hearing on Wednesday the "fixation" that emerged in his late 20s was fuelled by a $1500 per week drug habit and a repressed history of sexual abuse.

The ex-Knox Grammar teacher, 31, was arrested in August 2019 after leaving his mobile phone - which held "horrific" child abuse material - unattended next to the school's pool.

Nick Warby was the aquatic sports director at Sydney's Knox Grammar School. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi
Nick Warby was the aquatic sports director at Sydney's Knox Grammar School. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi

A work colleague who found it also made the shocking discovery of at least 26 child abuse images, and attending police found USBs containing thousands of pieces of sickening material in his car.

This year Warby admitted he was "ashamed" as he pleaded guilty to possessing 3400 photos and videos of child abuse material, some showing the sexual abuse of pre-pubescent boys and babies, which his own lawyer described as being "as bad as can be".

Judge Gina O'Rouke heard this week the ex-teacher had revealed to psychologists he had been the victim of several instances of sexual abuse as a child, including from a friend's father when he was nine or 10 and an older man who "detained" and raped him for several hours as a 14-year-old.

Warby leaves Hornsby Local Court in August 2019. Picture: AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi
Warby leaves Hornsby Local Court in August 2019. Picture: AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi

The court heard Warby met a man called "Jay" on the dating app Grindr in 2016 who showed him a video of a boy performing a sex act on an older man.

"I lit up. It was similar to the first time I drank and the first time I used ice," the court heard he told a psychologist.

His lawyer Edward Anderson said it appeared Warby's sexual interest in children had been "lying dormant" for many years, but drug use, couple with trauma of his past, had tipped him over the edge.

"You've got someone for 28 years or whatever it is (who) doesn't have a problem leaving with what's occurred sitting essentially dormant in the back of their mind," he said.

The court heard Warby suffered sexual abuse as a child.
The court heard Warby suffered sexual abuse as a child.

"The drug use seems to bring forward the particular fixation (that) must have some connection with what happened.

"The drug use is clearly disinhibiting and brings the fixation to the forefront … and must have something to do with the abuse."

Under cross-examination on Wednesday, the ex-teacher's mother Belinda Warby gave evidence she had not noticed her son was in the grips of drug and alcohol addiction.

"(I) did not know he was on drugs, no," Mrs Warby said.

Mr Anderson argued that some alcoholics "do a really good job of hiding it" and told the court his client would venture to his car during the day to drink bottles of wine, hiding the smell with breath mints.

"It was clearly being done surreptitiously," he said.

Warby’s mother gave evidence in court. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi
Warby’s mother gave evidence in court. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi

Judge O'Rourke said it was "quite peculiar" that his loving family had not noticed Warby, who lived at home, was drinking morning, afternoon and night and spending thousands of dollars on drugs.

She also questioned why his sentence for possessing the "extreme material" should be more lenient than those who made and shared child abuse material.

"You don't make it, you don't disseminate it, unless like-minded people want to possess it," she said.

Warby has also pleaded guilty to drug possession after small amounts of GHB and methamphetamine were found in his car last August.

He faces a maximum of 10 years in jail and will return to court on Friday to learn his sentence.

*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.   

Originally published as 'I lit up': Teacher's shocking admission


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