Breaking news: School named in paedophile teacher case
PAEDOPHILE teacher Nigel Leat taught at Weston’s Hillside First School, the Mercury can reveal today following a court U-turn.
Up until now, tough legal restrictions have made it impossible for us to reveal where Leat – who has pleaded guilty to 36 sex crimes against pupils – had worked.
But moments ago, His Honour Judge Ford QC at Bristol Crown Court has lifted the ban, allowing us to reveal he worked at the Church Lane school.
However, such has been the weight of evidence for the prosecution to outline today, the hearing will now run over to Tuesday morning before Leat’s sentence is handed down.
Throughout the day, the court has been hearing how Leat abused children in his care on a regular basis over at least five years.
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He filmed his assaults using cameras hidden under desks and on bookshelves in his classroom, targeting girls aged six to eight.
Police found some 453 video clips he had made of Hillside pupils when they raided his home last December and seized computer equipment. Other computer kit and storage devices were retrieved from the school itself.
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The footage revealed children being abused in their classroom, in the school staff room, and in after-school and lunchtime ‘reading sessions’ arranged by Leat.
The court also heard how Leat had picked a ‘favourite’ girl in each class, and groom the child with gifts.
It is not yet clear how Leat concealed his actions from other staff or his wife of 27 years, or what tactics he employed to prevent victims from speaking out.
However, it was revealed that a teaching assistant at Hillside - where Leat taught for 15 years - had raised concerns about his behaviour towards pupils on three separate occasions.
The woman told school leaders she felt his relationships with pupils were ‘too close’ and left him ‘open to suspicion’.
However, although the school’s headteacher spoke to Leat, and his behaviour improved, no further action was taken.
In total, prosecutors say as many as 47 children were affected by Leat’s actions, either as direct victims, by witnessing the abuse of other children in the class, or in other ways.
Leat has pleaded guilty to 36 charges, including one attempted rape, 31 indecent assaults, one case of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and one of voyeurism.
He also admitted possessing indecent photographs of children, and one of possessing extreme pornographic images.
Dressed in a blue fleece, he spoke today only to confirm his name, and has shown no emotion as the catalogue of abuse and betrayal was revealed to the court.
The 51-year-old teacher, who lives in Bristol, was expected to receive a substantial custodial sentence today, but must now wait until Tuesday before his fate is decided.
Mercury reporters will be in court again on Tuesday to bring you latest developments, and will reveal details of Leat’s sentence as soon as it is confirmed.