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Killer banned from classroom for life

GTC panel decides a teacher who bludgeoned his wife to death is unfit to teach again. Becky Sharpe reports

A TEACHER jailed for bludgeoning his wife to death after discovering she was having an affair with a man at the school where they all taught has received the first lifetime ban from the profession.

Mark Parnham, serving a six-year jail sentence for manslaughter, has been given an indefinite prohibition order by the General Teaching Council for England.

He battered his wife Jillian, a maths teacher, to death in a fit of jealousy after she admitted having an affair with another teacher at Millais girls' school in Horsham, West Sussex.

Christopher Worth, her lover, left the maths department immediately after her death. Several other teachers at the comprehensive were called as witnesses in the trial at Lewes Crown Court.

The metal bar which Parnham used to attack his wife was for a school art project. Medical experts said she had been hit at least 44 times on her head and body.

The GTCE took only an hour last week to issue Parnham, 38, with the lifetime ban after the Department for Education and Skills ordered it to investigate whether he was fit to teach.

Bradley Albuery, presenting officer, asked the GTCE committee to "determine whether his criminal conviction falls short of professional conduct as a registered teacher".

He told the hearing that a "verbal confrontation" had occurred between Parnham and his wife of 11 years on March 5, 2001, after he confronted her about her relationship with Mr Worth, 47.

They began an affair after starring together in the school's Christmas pantomime, in which she sang and he played the guitar.

After Jillian, 37, admitted the affair, the court heard she struck Parnham three or four times with the metal bar. He grabbed the bar after she called him names and hit her repeatedly with it.

Parnham told police that intruders had attacked his wife, with whom he has two young children, before he later confessed to the killing. "I am not human. I don't deserve to live," he said.

Teachers from the school told the court he was an "excellent" teacher who never showed signs of aggression, who was "very well liked by staff and pupils, and concerned for the welfare of children".

Mr Albuery told the GTCE that although Parnham's conviction was not directly related to his teaching ability: "It is on these facts that you can find him guilty of unacceptable professional conduct."

Gail Mortimer, the committee chairwoman, said: "We are satisfied that this offence is a relevant offence, and that his actions fall short of the standards expected of a registered teacher.

"We are entirely satisfied that he is guilty of unprofessional conduct. We have decided unanimously that he will be prohibited from teaching for an indefinite period."

Leon Nettley, head of Millais school, was not available for comment and his personal assistant said no comment would be made.

A spokeswoman for West Sussex education department also said no official statement would be made. She said: "All parents expect teachers to have impeccable credentials."

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