December 2015

Primary school staff member sentenced for possessing indecent images of children

A FORMER staff member at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School has been sentenced for possessing indecent images of children.

James Roberts, 37, of Maytree Hill, Droitwich, was given a three-year community order at Stroud Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, September 15 for the offence committed in Droitwich in January 2015. He will sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years.

He had been suspended from his position as ICT technician at the Worcestershire County Council-run school during a police investigation and later resigned.

Miranda Gibbs, headteacher at Ombersley Way-based St Joseph’s, reassured parents there is “no evidence” that any children were harmed by Roberts during his time at the school.

She said: “St Joseph’s take the safeguarding of our pupils extremely seriously and all the appropriate procedures have been followed.

“I want to reassure parents that there is no evidence to suggest that any pupils have been harmed and the offences of this individual do not relate to his professional life or to his employment at St Joseph’s.

“Any further information or concerns should be directed to the Police on 101.”

On Wednesday afternoon Ms Gibbs sent a letter home to parents and carers of children at the school, explaining that Roberts had been sentenced earlier this year.

However, according to one mum of two children who go to the school, parents are “up in arms” over the way the situation has been handled by officials.

The parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I feel that I have lost all trust in the school, and head teacher and the governors, who are the people that are supposedly looking after our children and have the best interests of our children at heart.

“It is a bit late really, he was convicted on the 15th of September and it is only coming to light now. We should have been told that things were being put into place and that things were OK and then there wouldn’t have been this uprising and we would have confidence.”

Speaking about her reaction to Roberts’ conviction the parent said: “I’m still in shock to be honest. You feel physically sick because you send your children off in the morning with big smiles thinking they are in the best place, they are surrounded by people who have their best interests at heart.

“To find out that this isn’t the case, it is just devastating.”

She called for the governors and head teacher to arrange a meeting with parents to further discuss the issue.

Following a letter issued to parents on Monday, November 30 regarding the suspension of Roberts, Ms Gibbs sent out another, more detailed, message to parents on Wednesday, December 2.

The letter said: “Following Monday’s letter home to parents, I understand that some parents have considered the information provided to be vague and non-specific. Because of the nature of the issue, I was advised of the limited information I was able to share with you.”

Ms Gibbs continued to explain she wanted to be “as open and honest as possible” with parents about the issue, in part due to “imminent media attention”.

She wrote: “What I must reiterate to parents is that there is no police evidence to suggest that this involved any pupils from St Joseph’s nor is it related to Mr Roberts’ professional career at the school.

“I can understand that the letter has caused alarm, however I hope you can understand that we have been as honest and open as we are legally allowed to be. Our safeguarding procedures are outstanding and have been independently, externally graded as this in two Ofsted inspections over the last six months.”

Roberts is due to reappear at Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, January 5 2016 regarding a potential Sexual Harm Prevention Order.