By Lorna Hughes
The Liverpool Echo
MERSEYSIDE, England — A Merseyside firefighter was disciplined after helping police catch a teacher who later admitted a string of child porn offences.
Roy Stewart was investigated by bosses at Merseyside Fire Service for taking a disc from the Wallasey home of Rob Hughes.
The ECHO understands he became suspicious of Mr Hughes after helping to put out a fire in a pan of food at the house on Mount Road and later reported his concerns to Merseyside Police.
Hughes, who was deputy headteacher at Wallasey School for 17 years, later admitted 13 counts of making indecent photographs and computer-generated "pseudo" images of children.
But Mr Stewart was given a final written warning and fined a month's wages by the fire service for removing the disc from the property.
Merseyside Fire Brigades Union (FBU), which supported Mr Stewart through the disciplinary process, argued his actions were in the public interest.
Les Skarratts, branch secretary of the Merseyside FBU, called on the fire service to "do the decent thing" and withdraw Mr Stewart's punishment.
He said: "I can confirm one of my members has been subject to disciplinary procedures for discovering a disc that contained evidence that led to the prosecution of Mr Hughes. "We ran a public interest defence which was not successful.
"Mr Stewart has been severely disciplined and we are now awaiting the outcome of an appeal.
Mr Stewart was suspended in the early stages of the investigation, but has now returned to work.
His appeal hearing took place on Tuesday and the FBU said a decision was expected any day. Fire service colleagues told the ECHO they were disgusted at how Mr Stewart had been treated.
One, who asked not to be named, said: "I think the firefighter should be commended, and I think the parents at the school where the man was a teacher will thoroughly agree with me."
A spokesman for Merseyside Fire Service said: "As this matter is part of an internal disciplinary process, we cannot comment at this stage."
Last month, Hughes was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, a two-year supervision order and banned from working with children after submitting his guilty pleas.
Hughes He was placed on the Sex Offenders' Register for 10 years. Hughes was suspended from his job as soon as the allegations surfaced and was later sacked by governors.
Mr Stewart declined to comment.
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