North Sydney Girls School: IT worker charged with possessing child abuse material

A former employee at a prestigious Sydney girls school has been charged with possessing child abuse material at his home and workplace and is banned from accessing the internet while on bail.

Michael Mowbray was working as an IT officer at North Sydney Girls High School, on Sydney’s north shore, around the time he was charged with four counts of possess child abuse material in November.

According to court documents seen exclusively by NCA NewsWire, police allegedly found child abuse material between 11am and 3pm on November 23 at Crows Nest.

They also allege that they found more material at the 29-year-old’s Richmond home the following day.

NCA NewsWire understands his employment at the school ended shortly before his arrest, and a source told NCA NewsWire that staff at North Sydney Girls were asked to hand in their school-issued laptops to the IT department after Mr Mowbray’s arrest.

Mr Mowbray was arrested about 2.20pm on November 24 before he was taken to Chatswood Police Station and charged at 11.52pm.

Police conducted a search warrant and located the child abuse material both “at his home and his workplace”, court documents state.

“The (alleged) offences are quite serious,” the documents state.

“They involve the possession of child abuse material. However, the images that police have located appear to be on the lower end of possession material.”

The IT worker was granted strict conditional bail, with police saying he has no criminal history and has “strong ties to the community”.

According to the documents, Mr Mowbray could be facing time in custody if he is convicted of the charges.

“The accused would benefit from being free to prepare for his court appearance and to obtain legal advice given the seriousness of the charges he faces,” the documents state.

While police did have concerns he could commit a further offence or interfere with a witness or evidence, according to court documents, the 29-year-old was granted bail by police.

As part of his conditions, Mr Mowbray must report to Windsor Police Station once a day between 6am to 10pm, can’t access the internet unless required to by his workplace and is not to enter any childcare or school premises.

He must surrender his passport and is not allowed to enter any international airport or point of departure from Australia.

A Department of Education spokesperson told NCA NewsWire the safety and wellbeing of students and staff was top priority.

“Once we were aware of an issue, we immediately shut down access to the school’s IT network,” the spokesperson said.

“We have been working closely with NSW Police on this matter and the Department’s IT experts have worked with the school to ensure its IT networks are safe.”

The spokesperson said the school had provided updates to the parent and carer community, but declined to share further details.

North Sydney Girls High School is a government-funded single-sex selective school in Crows Nest.

The school was established in 1914 and caters for more than 900 students across years 7 to 12.

Prospective students are only offered a spot at the school after sitting the selective schools admission test, with the school having high standards.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Mr Mowbray worked as a residential support worker at Life Without Barriers for more than two years.

He has described himself as “hardworking and reliable”, with his work history tailored to the “cybersecurity world”.

The matter will return to court in March.

Originally published as IT worker at prestigious Sydney school charged with possessing child abuse material

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