West Sussex teacher banned from working in schools after accessing ‘paedophile handbook’

A former teacher who accessed a ‘paedophile handbook’ and was found with indecent images of children on his phone has been banned from teaching indefinitely.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 3:54 pm
Updated Thursday, 13th May 2021, 4:07 pm
The matter was heard by the Teaching Regulation Agency SUS-210513-154355001
The matter was heard by the Teaching Regulation Agency SUS-210513-154355001

A misconduct hearing by a panel from the Teaching Regulation Agency, found the conduct of Gareth Rees had been ‘inappropriate and at the very least risked demonstrating a sexual interest in children’.

Mr Rees, who was ateacher at Westbourne House School before his resignation in March 2017, had denied the allegations and did not appear at the hearing.

A report published following the hearing said he had been arrested in March 2017 and found not guilty following a trial in the December.

The panel met in April, where the allegations against Mr Rees included: that he accessed, possessed and/or exchanged one or more indecent images of children and a ‘paedophile handbook’; that he used terms such as ‘young nudist’, ‘pederasty’ and ‘pre-teen’ during online searches; and that he took part in a discussion on social media relating to children/pupils engaging in sexual activity.

The indecent images found on his phone were two classed as Category A and five classed as Category B.

All this is reported to have happened between October 2016 and February 2017.

Mr Rees was reported to have told police that he closed the ‘paedophile handbook’ after two minutes, described the contents as ‘horrible’ and did not download it.

But the panel, which found all allegations made against him to be proven, pointed out that he failed to report what he had seen to the police or any other agency at the time.

The report said: “Mr Rees has demonstrated no insight or remorse having denied the allegations in their entirety.

“His failure to report the online material he had seen failed to recognise that there was a victim whose welfare needed to be safeguarded.

“The panel was, therefore, concerned at the risk of repetition given the behaviours that have been exhibited by Mr Rees.”

A spokesperson for Westbourne House School said: “Mr Rees worked briefly at the school for six months, between September 2016 and March 2017. He was suspended immediately as soon as the school learned of the investigation, and subsequently resigned.

“The allegations considered by the Teaching Regulation Authority concern internet use conducted entirely outside the school, and had nothing whatever to do with Westbourne House or its pupils. We were shocked to learn the details of this case, and fully endorse the TRA’s decision to ban him from teaching.”