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Gun 'obsessive' can work

Julie Turner on a controversial decision by the English GTC

A gun-obsessed primary teacher, jailed after police found an illegal weapons cache at his home,has been told he can carry on teaching.

Thomas Hosty was given a 12-month sentence last year for possessing nine handguns, a CS gas canister, a stun gun and several rounds of ammunition at his home in Shaw, Greater Manchester.

The 55-year-old, a former acting deputy head at Harwood Park primary in Heywood, Lancashire, was released after serving three-and-a-half months following good behaviour.

He told England's General Teaching Council that he had paid his debt to society and now wanted to continue teaching.

"I was wrong to let my enthusiasm for weapons get to this stage and it has cost me a lot - my freedom and the job that I loved," said Mr Hosty, who taught for 31 years. "I have always been interested in weapons. I was brought up on a farm in west Ireland so there was always a shotgun around.

I was a good teacher for many years and never brought the firearms to school."

Mr Hosty was arrested following a police raid at his home in November 2001 where officers discovered the arsenal. It included a loaded Smith and Wesson .38 revolver stashed under the floorboards in his toilet and a Colt .45 secreted in a central heating duct.

Many of the guns had been modified and some had had their serial numbers erased.

Mr Hosty was described at Derby crown court as an obsessive collector prepared to break the law to keep weapons. He has since been banned from keeping firearms. He was sacked from Harwood Park primary in November 2001 and since his release from prison has been teaching English and computer skills to adults at Hopwood college, Rochdale.

The GTCE heard that Mr Hosty pleaded guilty to the criminal offences and agreed that his behaviour constituted unacceptable professional misconduct.

It issued a conditional registration order, allowing him to continue teaching as long as he informs the GTCE of any new job and tells any school he works at of activities relating to guns.

The GTCE's decision was attacked by a local Conservative councillor. Colin Lambert, chair of Rochdale's education committee, said: "I am astounded, appalled and disgusted. If I had a child at Mr Hosty's school I would withdraw them immediately."

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