A paedophile was a governor at a primary school despite having two convictions for sex crimes.

Father-of-two Alan Whitty was a pillar of the community but hid a sordid secret from teachers at Annecy Roman Catholic Primary School.

Yesterday the married driving instructor was exposed as a child abuser after he admitted an attack on a 13-year-old boy.

It was revealed that he had convictions for sex crimes going back to 1987.

He was twice convicted for indecency offences, including one in a public toilet, although neither crime related to children.

But the 44-year-old was allowed to continue acting as a governor at the Seaford primary school.

And at Lewes Crown Court yesterday Whitty, of Kammond Avenue, Seaford, walked out of court despite admitting two offences of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy.

Instead Judge Richard Hayward said he would be spared prison so he could get treatment to prevent him attacking again.

The court was told Whitty had been married for 22 years but had suppressed his homosexuality for years.

Tetteh Turkson, prosecuting, said Whitty was arrested in January after the boy told his mother he had been sexually assaulted.

He said: "She found him hiding behind a hedge crying and shaking and in a terrible state."

Mr Turkson said the boy told police Whitty had offered him a gift, which turned out to be a condom.

A previous assault had taken place in November last year but the boy had not told anyone at the time.

When the boy's mother called the police Whitty went to the Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton, where he warned medics he feared he was going to kill himself. He was arrested by police at the hospital.

Kelly German, defending, said: "Up until the time of these proceedings he has been an upstanding member of the community in all respects - a family man, involved in his local church.

"Effectively his life is now ruined and cannot continue as it was. He has lost his reputation and his employment.

"He does not ask for sympathy. He fully accepts what he did was utterly wrong and completely unacceptable. He confessed fully to police about what he had done.

"His remorse is genuine and he accepts responsibility for his behaviour. He is at a loss to explain how this situation manifested itself.

"Despite the fact he had been married for 22 years his sexual orientation is homosexual, but not directed towards children."

She said Whitty had sought help for his behaviour, which she described as being a "one-off."

Whitty had become a police cadet after leaving school and then worked as a theatre manager before training as a driving instructor and starting up his own business employing a number of staff.

While in prison he worked in the laundry and had been visited by his parish priest who had undertaken the sacrament of confession.

Judge Richard Hayward told Whitty the offences were so serious they warranted a prison sentence but he decided not to send him straight to jail in order for him to get help.

He has been held in custody on remand at Lewes Prison, in a wing for vulnerable prisoners, since he was charged in January, which meant he had served the equivalent of a four months sentence.

Whitty, whose 22-year marriage has ended following the charges, was given a 12-month sentence suspended for two years and was told he would be supervised by the probation service for two years and in that time would undertake a sex offender treatment programme.

He is disqualified from working with children for the rest of his life and must sign on the sex offenders register for ten years.

The judge told him he had been a hard-working man who had contributed to his local community in a variety of ways.

He said: "You have expressed remorse for your behaviour and shame and I accept that is genuine.

"You will not be able to continue your work and your marriage is now broken up.

"The abuse of young people is a very serious matter which can cause much distress and even long-term problems."

Relatives of the victim and of Whitty were in the public gallery for the hearing.

Last night school bosses moved to calm fears that the convicted sex offender had been in contact with pupils.

Whitty had been a governor at Annecy Roman Catholic Primary School, in Sutton Drive, Seaford, until his arrest.

A spokesman for East Sussex County Council said Whitty was suspended as a school governor as soon as he was arrested.

He said: "The safety of children is our top priority. As soon as we were aware of this case we took immediate and appropriate action and suspended Alan Whitty.

"The alleged incidents in this case did not occur during school hours or on school premises. No students from the school where he was a governor were involved."

The education authority said it could not confirm what role Whitty played as a governor at Annecy RC Primary, but stressed he would have had to go through a Criminal Records Bureau check if he had worked directly with pupils.

The Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, the Right Reverend Kieran Conry, said: "Not all school governors are routinely checked because not all of them go into schools."