Music career not over despite child porn guilt

14th February 2003 at 00:00
A SOUTH Wales music teacher who admitted accessing child pornography could still continue teaching, police said.

Roddy Lewis, a peripatetic music teacher in Monmouth, pleaded guilty last week to charges of attempting to make an indecent image of a child, after downloading pornographic pictures of two schoolgirls in uniform performing a sex act on an older man. He was given a two-year conditional discharge by Newport Crown Court, but police say that the conviction will not prevent Mr Lewis from teaching. A conditional discharge is not classified by the Home Office as a criminal conviction, meaning that Mr Lewis will not be included in the Government's register of sex offenders.

Gary Probert, of Gwent police high-tech crime unit, blamed the anomalies of the legal system: "It's a grey area. We have a duty to protect children, but this type of sentence opens up loopholes.

"If he is allowed to resign from his current position, he could find another job. And he's involved in town bands, which gives him access to children."

Mr Lewis has been suspended by Newport City Council, pending its own investigation into the events. If they find him guilty, his case will be passed to the General Teaching Council for Wales. The GTCW has yet to hold a disciplinary hearing against a teacher, but this is unlikely to be the first. Child-protection cases are not devolved to Wales, because their impact may not be confined to its borders. Instead, it will refer the case on to the Department for Education and Skills which will consider whether or not to place Mr Lewis on List 99, the register of people deemed unsuitable to work with children.

"The DfES has historically dealt with cases of this nature, because of wider employment issues," said Hayden Llewellyn, GTCW registrar. "But it would feed back to us, and we would then remove him from the teaching register."

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