A former teacher found with indecent images of children and who accessed a “paedophile handbook” has been banned from the profession indefinitely.
Gareth Rees, who was a teacher at the independent Westbourne House School, in West Sussex, was found by a Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) panel to have engaged in inappropriate behaviour and demonstrated a sexual interest in children.
The 32-year-old had denied the allegations, which were dated between October 2016 and February 2017, and did not appear at a TRA hearing.
A panel found it proven that he possessed indecent images of children and accessed a "paedophile handbook".
It said that opening such a handbook was inappropriate and at the very least risked demonstrating a sexual interest in children.
Teacher had indecent images of children on his mobile phone
The TRA panel heard that an investigator for Surrey Police had confirmed that two category A and five category B indecent images of children were found on Mr Rees’ mobile phone.
A summary of Mr Rees’ police interview stated that he said he saw a "paedophile handbook" and he “opened it up and then two minutes later, closed it down”.
He stated he did not "download it. It was horrible.”
Mr Rees had been employed as a Year 4 teacher at Westbourne House School.
The panel report says that on 14 March 2017 he was arrested and interviewed by the police.
A trial took place on 19 December 2017 and Mr Rees was found not guilty. The TRA report does not provide detail of the criminal charge he was accused of.
Mr Rees had resigned from the school on 22 March, 2017.
The TRA panel also found that the allegations that he had searched for material online using the term “young nudist”, “pederasty” and “pre-teen” proved in their entirety.
“A teacher ought to be alive to the risks of using such search terms," the panel stated.
It also found that it was more probable than not that Mr Rees had engaged in a discussion on social media relating to children or pupils engaging in sexual activity.
The TRA report said that the panel considered that this was inappropriate and demonstrated a sexual interest in children.
The panel was satisfied that the conduct of Mr Rees involved breaches of the Teachers’ Standards.
It said that this amounted to misconduct of a serious nature that fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession and that Mr Rees was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.
The TRA panel report stated that it considered Mr Rees to have “a deep-seated attitude given the number of images found on his mobile phone; the severity of those images; the search terms he used; his opening of a paedophile handbook; and his discussion on social media about children engaging in sexual activity".
"Such behaviour is harmful in encouraging the exploitation of children in this way,” it added.
The panel also has found his actions to be deliberate and sexually motivated.
The decision made on behalf of the secretary of state was to ban Mr Rees from teaching indefinitely.
He cannot teach in any school, sixth-form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England and cannot apply for restoration of his eligibility to teach.