‘You will no doubt lose your job and ca­reer. I see no way you can teach again’

HEAD­TEACHER WHO WAS SENT IN­DE­CENT PIC­TURES BY GIRL, 16, SEN­TENCED

Llanelli Star - - Front Page - Robert Dalling @RobertDall­ing [email protected]­di­awales.co.uk 01554 700811

A PRI­MARY school head teacher from Llanelli who ad­mit­ted mak­ing in­de­cent images of a child has been sen­tenced.

A court heard that two images were found on a Sam­sung tele­phone, one in cat­e­gory A, the most se­ri­ous, and one in cat­e­gory C. The images had been sent to the teacher by the vic­tim via so­cial me­dia app Snapchat.

The images were re­cov­ered by po­lice us­ing spe­cial­ist soft­ware.

A pre-sen­tence re­port de­tailed in court yes­ter­day found the teacher was “mor­ti­fied” to learn re­ceiv­ing the images was il­le­gal and she had en­tered a guilty plea at the first op­por­tu­nity.

Rhian Eleri DeSouza was ar­rested on Au­gust 14 and made a no com­ment in­ter­view.

She is cur­rently sus­pended from her role as head of Ys­gol Gyn­radd Gym­raeg Gel­lion­nen and ap­peared at Swansea Crown Court on Fri­day.

She pre­vi­ously ap­peared be­fore Llanelli Mag­is­trates’ Court on Au­gust 15, where she in­di­cated guilty pleas to two counts of mak­ing an in­de­cent pho­to­graph of a child in May and June.

The 43-year-old, of Five Roads in Llanelli, has been on bail.

A state­ment from Swansea Coun­cil and the school, which is in Bryn Tirion, Cly­dach, Swansea, has said the court pro­ceed­ings do not re­late to any pupil, past or present, at any school DeSouza has taught at.

A joint state­ment from the school and coun­cil af­ter she was con­victed said: “We would like to re­as­sure par­ents that the court pro­ceed­ings do not re­late to any pupil, past or present, at any school the in­di­vid­ual has taught at.

“As soon as we were made aware of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion by po­lice she was sus­pended and re­mains so.

“An act­ing head teacher is in place and sup­port is be­ing given to en­sure there is no im­pact on the day-to-day run­ning of the school.”

Sen­tenc­ing DeSouza, Judge Paul Thomas QC said: “This is a very un­usual set of cir­cum­stances. It’s unique in my ex­pe­ri­ence, which is of deal­ing ev­ery week with such cases over many years with cases of in­de­cent pho­tos of chil­dren un­der 18.

“When I read the sub­stan­tial me­dia cov­er­age my ini­tial re­ac­tion was a prison sen­tence had to be in­evitable. There was a great deal of lo­cal out­rage ex­pressed and I can fully un­der­stand why this would be. This would send a shiver down the spine of any par­ent.”

But he said the sce­nario in­volved was “dif­fer­ent to other cases” as the girl in­volved was aged 16 and had sent the images con­sen­su­ally.

The judge said: “She was not un­der the age of con­sent and there was no dis­tri­bu­tion of the images. The like­li­hood is on Snapchat they would have dis­ap­peared af­ter a short pe­riod of time.

“That, how­ever, is not to triv­i­alise what you did. As a re­sult of having two pho­tos you will no doubt lose your job and lose your ca­reer. I see no way you can teach again.”

Judge Thomas said the case did con­sti­tute an “anom­aly” but added: “This is not a court of mo­rals – it is a court of law.”

DeSouza was sen­tenced to a two-year com­mu­nity or­der with 25 days re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ac­tiv­ity re­quire­ment and 200 hours un­paid work. She must sign the sex of­fend­ers reg­is­ter for five years.

A pre-sen­tence re­port found a “clear demon­stra­tion of re­morse”, her so­lic­i­tor Ca­rina Hughes said.

She added: “She has al­ways been a ded­i­cated teacher and is held in high re­gard by other mem­bers of her pro­fes­sion as well as the com­mu­nity.

“She has lost her pro­fes­sion and her fi­nan­cial in­de­pen­dence and the stress and anx­i­ety has been a pun­ish­ment while await­ing pun­ish­ment for this case.”

A state­ment was read on be­half of the teenage vic­tim’s mother. It read: “These past few months have been the dark­est and most hor­ren­dous any­one can imag­ine. Our world has fallen apart and, at times, it’s been dif­fi­cult to look be­yond to­mor­row.

“As a fam­ily we have been left to ques­tion why she has been taken ad­van­tage over emo­tion­ally.

“We have been caught up in a storm. She has lost an in­cred­i­ble amount of weight and her self es­teem is very low.”

Af­ter the hear­ing a Swansea Coun­cil spokesman said: “Now that crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings are com- plete we would like to re­as­sure par­ents again that they did not re­late to any pupil, past or present, and re­it­er­ate as soon as we were made aware of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion by po­lice she was, and re­mains, sus­pended.

“The school’s gov­ern­ing body con­tin­ues to un­der­take the re­quired and nec­es­sary in­ter­nal pro­ce­dures but would like take this op­por­tu­nity to thank par­ents, car­ers and the wider com­mu­nity of the school for the over­whelm­ing sup­port they have of­fered both staff and the school since the be­gin­ning of the new term.”

Pic­ture: Face­book

Rhian Eleri DeSouza.

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