June 2003

Teacher banned from working with children

A GWENT music teacher branded “depraved” by a judge for trying to download child pornography on the Internet is now banned from working with schoolchildren.

And peripatetic music teacher Roddy Lewis, 42 formerly of The Observatory, Trellech, near Monmouth, has lost his job with Newport city council.

Lewis has been banned from working with children in local government schools after being placed on the Department of Education and Skills List 99.

List 99 is a confidential document maintained by the Department of Education and Skills, which contains the names, dates of birth, National Insurance numbers and teacher reference numbers of people who have been barred or restricted from work in relevant employment by the secretary of state.

They include those who are barred for misconduct, on medical grounds, or those considered unfit or unsuitable to work with children, and the list can be accessed by local authorities and other bodies checking those applying to work with children. A spokesman for the DfES said yesterday: “Once you’re on the list, the chances are you’re not going to teach again.”

Lewis worked as a teacher for the Gwent Music Support Service, which organises lessons and concerts for schoolchildren in the Newport, Monmouth, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen local authority areas.

A spokeswoman for Newport city council, who administers the Gwent Music Support Service, said that Lewis had “left following an internal disciplinary hearing in line with council policy”.

The spokeswoman refused to clarify whether he had been dismissed or had resigned. Lewis pleaded guilty at Newport crown court in February of trying to download a ten-second video clip from the Internet in July 2001 showing a sex act between two girls, dressed in school uniform, and a man.

Prosecutor David Webster told the court a seven-page text work of fiction, entitled Big Daddy’s Little Girl, was found on his computer.

Mr Webster said Lewis’ computer showed from its search engines “he not only searched for pornographic material, but pornographic material that was directed to sites displaying indecent images of children. On at least one occasion he was looking for paedophile material on the Internet.”

Anthony Vines, mitigating for Lewis, told the court that Lewis was “held in high esteem in the community”.

He said: “He will certainly be losing his job,” and would undergo “a significant change of lifestyle”.

Judge Philip Richards called Lewis “depraved” and said children were subjected to “degradation” when making such films, adding: “You, as a schoolteacher, should be ashamed of yourself.”

He was sentenced to a two-year conditional discharge, ordered to pay costs of £800 and to forfeit his computer equipment.

Lewis had been suspended on full pay from his job once the allegation came to light.

Gary Probert, Gwent Police’s computer crime investigator, who led the investigation against Lewis, said after the case: “This man, as a teacher, had a moral obligation to protect children and it is clear he held children in contempt.”