‘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
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.”
Rhian Eleri DeSouza.