May 2021

Ban for former Westbourne House School teacher Gareth Rees

A former teacher who looked at a “paedophile handbook” has been banned from the classroom.

Gareth Rees, 32, who worked at a prestigious private school, was caught with indecent images on his phone.

Mr Rees, who taught children of primary school age at Westbourne House, also took part in sick online chats.

The allegations relate to his internet activity and not children at the school, where parents pay up to £19,000-a-year.

Mr Rees, who has since resigned, faced a disciplinary hearing where he was accused of having a sexual interest in children.

Mr Rees denied a string of allegations, dating from October 2016 to February 2017, but did not attend the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) hearing.

He was accused of using terms such as “young nudist”, “pederasty” and “pre-teen” during online searches.

He was also accused of taking part in a discussion on social media relating to children engaging in sexual activity.

A social media exchange – in which he said “that’s so naughty but I’m turned on by it…is that wrong?” – appeared to relate to children engaged in sexual activity, the TRA said.

Mr Rees told police that he opened the “paedophile handbook” but closed it after two minutes, described the contents as “horrible” and stating he did not download it.

Furthermore, two images found on his phone were classed as Category A and five classed as Category B, according to a statement from an officer.

Mr Rees said he remembered seeing “age questionable” material on an adult chat site he was using.

He also remembered seeing images on his phone downloaded unintentionally and deleted them straight away.

He left his position in March 2017 – the same month he was arrested.

However, Mr Rees was found not guilty at a criminal trial in December of that year.

After considering all the evidence, the TRA panel found the allegation that he had a sexual interest in children to be proven.

Mr Rees was given an indefinite ban from teaching.

In a report, the panel said: “Mr Rees has demonstrated no insight or remorse having denied the allegations in their entirety.

“His failure to report the online material he had seen failed to recognise that there was a victim whose welfare needed to be safeguarded.

“The panel was, therefore, concerned at the risk of repetition given the behaviours that have been exhibited by Mr Rees.”