A teacher was able to film himself abusing young girls because of a “lamentable failure” by school management, a review has found.
Nigel Leat, 51, was jailed indefinitely for abusing children at Hillside First School in Weston-super-Mare.
At his trial, which heard Leat abused five victims, some as young as six, the judge described him as a “paedophile of the most sickening order”.
The serious case review was commissioned after Leat’s 2010 arrest.
Leat, of Bloomfield Road in Bristol, admitted 36 sexual offences at Bristol rown ourt in May last year.
The charges included one count of attempted rape, 22 of sexually assaulting a child under 13 and eight of sexual assault by penetration.
The offences were committed between September 2006 and ecember 2010, when Leat was arrested.
A report carried out by Leat’s school while he still worked there referred to at least 30 incidents of “inappropriate or unprofessional conduct” involving the teacher.
The serious case review, commissioned by North Somerset Safeguarding hildren Board, said the incidents in the school management report ranged from indecent touching to inappropriate lesson content and over-familiarity with children.
The abuse happened at Hillside First School in Weston-super-Mare
Leat joined the school in September 1995 as a newly-qualified teacher.
The case review said a number of school staff had “a variety of concerns” about him within a year of his appointment and throughout the time that he worked there.
On at least three occasions, children reported that Leat was ‘touching their legs and kissing one child, a teaching assistant also witnessed Leat sitting on cushions with a female pupil, and noted he was sexually aroused.
Other complaints included children posing inappropriately with the teacher for pictures taken on the school camera.
The report states: “Within a year of his appointment, and throughout the time that he worked in the school, a number of teaching and support staff in the school had a variety of concerns about the teacher.
“The overwhelming impression is that (Leat’s) behaviour was characterised by a general lax approach to teaching and classroom discipline with significant displays of favouritism towards a small number of children in his class.
“These pupils were allowed to be over-familiar with the teacher, who was known to speak and joke with his pupils in a manner which was inappropriately adult.
“The failure to address the favouritism towards certain pupils is indicative of poor performance management and should have been of particular concern as it was recognised that the favouritism was shown only to girls and was accompanied by an over-familiarity between (Leat) and pupils with whom he was frequently observed to be in inappropriately close physical contact.
“These pupils were invariably girls and were described by staff members as pupils who were less academically able, emotionally needy and pretty.
The review identified 20 pupils who were witnesses or victims of abuse by Leat.
Leat was given an indeterminate sentence and told he must serve at least eight-and-a-half years before he can be considered for parole.
Last month the school’s head teacher hris Hood left his post, having been suspended since January 2011.
The victims of this man are able to not only pursue him through criminal proceedings but may have rise to a civil claim.
They may be able to pursue claims for compensation for damages against Leat himself and also North Somerset ouncil, who are vicariously liable for his assaults.
We would be interested to hear from relatives of victims or the victim themselves to discuss how we may be able to assist in their fight for justice.
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