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Two-year ban for teacher found with lethal samurai weapons

Conviction came to light following benefit fraud case

Conviction came to light following benefit fraud case

A teacher jailed for possessing deadly samurai weapons has been banned from the profession for two years.

Jean-Pierre MacAbee - who said he was "devastated" by the decision - was found with a Japanese throwing star and chain, a cosh and a flare gun in a public place, a disciplinary panel of the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) heard.

The offence came to light after he was convicted of benefit fraud for claiming more than #163;5,200 to which he was not entitled. He also received a caution for common assault in September last year.

The PE teacher was sentenced in April 2000 to four months in prison after police found him with the weapons and 10 cartridges of ammunition the previous December.

Zubair Khan, chairman of the GTC panel, said these were "very serious offences".

"It seems unlikely that Mr MacAbee was obliged to disclose these matters when he became a registered teacher as the convictions were in excess of 10 years ago, some time before the GTCE came into existence," he said.

"Nevertheless, they are highly material to his fitness to be a registered teacher. The weapons were capable of perpetrating severe harm on others."

Mr MacAbee told The TES he was "heartbroken" by the GTC's decision. "Right now I am devastated. My life is shattered. I have given my life to teaching. To education. I have such a good teaching record. My life has been very complicated in the past due to some of my choices or because of people that I trusted."

The GTC heard that Mr MacAbee had been convicted of benefit fraud after failing to declare that he had started working as a teacher.

Mr MacAbee wrote to the GTC to apologise, claiming he had been "beset with personal problems at the time, including debts" and when he found a suitable teaching position he continued to claim housing benefit in order to pay them off.

He told the GTC he was "paying a hard and shameful price for his mistake". The GTC panel said they accepted his expressions of regret and found his apologies to be "genuine".

In an email to the council, he added: "I do not see what my personal life andor past issues have to do with my passion for teaching and my teaching abilities."

But the professional conduct committee said that his convictions from 2000 meant that Mr MacAbee did not have a good "history".

"Although Mr MacAbee states in an email that he has taught for well over 15 years on three continents, he has not submitted any references or testimonials," the ruling said.

The panel said there were mitigating factors in that Mr MacAbee's dishonesty was not "persistent or covered up" and had not led to an abuse of trust in school.

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