A drama teacher has been jailed after he used a mobile phone to make secret recordings of half naked schoolgirls getting changed.

Mark Torley used an app which made it look as if his phone was switched off when in reality it was recording the girls at a comprehensive school in North Devon.

He left the phone in a props room where 13 and 14-year-old girls changed during drama classes. One was filmed topless while other girls were wearing only bras and underwear.

It was set with a timer device which meant that it switched itself on and started filming at the time when girls were taking off their school uniforms and putting on costumes which were stored in the cupboard.

He also used his phone to take an ‘upskirt’ image of a schoolgirl on his mobile under her desk. She has still not been identified.

The four of the five girls he filmed in the props cupboard were traced by police. All said they were shocked and horrified. One said the filming was creepy, others said it was horrible and they felt totally violated.

Torley was cleared of having sexual contact with two girls but admitted voyeurism after police recovered the images of partially clothed girls from his computer.

He was a teacher at the college from 2006 and 2015 and took the secret films of five girls between 2013 and 2014. Police also found indecent images on his computer of younger girls which he downloaded on the internet.

Torley, aged 48, formerly of Beatrice Avenue, Plymouth but now living in Eire, admitted one count of taking an indecent image, which relates to the upskirt picture.

He admitted five counts of voyeurism, relating to filming in the props room, and one count of downloading images from the internet.

He was jailed for a year and ten months by Judge Timothy Rose at Exeter Crown Court. He was put on the sex offenders register for ten years and made subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order which restricts his future contact with children and use of the internet.

He told him:”You took your conduct beyond any conceivable appropriate level. You knew what you were doing. There was a degree of planning. You set up your equipment.

“You did so from a position which I can only characterise as an outrageous breach of trust. You were their teacher and had a positive duty to protect them. You did the complete opposite.

“You utterly violated these girls for your own sexual gratification in the most tawdry way.”

Miss Mary McCarthy, prosecuting, said:”He abused his position as a drama teacher to make covert recordings of teenage girls changing in the props cupboard.

“He had downloaded an app which enabled him to record the girls when they thought they were in private and obtained indecent footage of them. It is hard to imagine a worse case of voyeurism.”

The images were found by police when they were investigating the allegations that Torley touched two girls, of which he was later cleared.

Miss Emily Cook, defending, said Torley has shown genuine remorse and has already suffered the loss of his job and reputation. He had stopped making the films of his own accord because he knew it was wrong.

A probation report said he was isolated and lonely at the time after the break up of a relationship. He has sought help since to curb his use of pornography.

At his trial at Plymouth Crown Court where he was cleared of the other offences, Torley described himself as having betrayed his students and being a failure as a man and a teacher.