Somerset primary teacher Nigel Leat filmed abuse

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Media captionNigel Leat showered "star pupils" with gifts, the court heard

A North Somerset primary school teacher filmed himself sexually abusing young girls in his classroom, a court heard.

Nigel Leat, 51, of Bloomfield Road, Bristol, admitted 36 sexual offences at Bristol Crown Court in May.

The charges included one count of attempted rape, 22 of sexually assaulting a child under 13 and eight of sexual assault by penetration.

The court heard Leat filmed his abuse of five girls at Hillside First School, Weston-super-Mare, over five years.

An order banning the naming of the school was lifted in court earlier.

Leat was due to be sentenced for his crimes at Bristol Crown Court on Friday, but sentencing will now be carried out on Tuesday.

BBC West correspondent Jon Kay said a senior police officer had told him the case was like the primary school equivalent of that of Plymouth nursery worker Vanessa George, who was jailed in the same court for child sex offences 18 months ago.

Leat also admitted one charge of voyeurism, one charge of causing or inciting a child under 14 to commit sexual activity and two charges of possessing indecent images of children.

'Too tactile'

The offences were committed against five pupils aged between six and eight between September 2006 and December last year.

Image caption An order banning the naming of Hillside First School, Weston-super-Mare was lifted in court

After police arrested Leat on 13 December last year, they discovered about 30,500 indecent photographs and 720 indecent movies in his possession.

The court was told how Leat would abuse the girls as they read aloud in class, getting them to perform sex acts on him at the same time.

Some relatives broke down in tears in the public gallery.

The married father-of-two, described as a keen birdwatcher and cyclist, wrote letters to one victim, asking her to perform sex acts on him.

Leat initially denied the allegations, but confessed after police found films of the abuse on his home computer in December last year.

Simon Morgan, prosecuting, told the court: "It is clear that these children had become well versed in doing what was expected of them.

"These were a myriad of offences over several years against exceptionally young children.

"The defendant took risks - he arranged the rooms in such a way as to avoid detection. The evidence shows that he took these opportunities to abuse these children."

The court was told the teacher, who worked at the school for 15 years, was warned about being too "tactile" with the girls in his class by the deputy head in 2008.

Staff were worried that it might leave him open to accusations of improper behaviour.

No further action was ever taken.

'Predatory paedophile'

The court was told the parents of one victim had been worried after the girl left his class and he asked if she had a webcam so he could keep in touch.

No concerns were passed on to the authorities.

Nicholas Gerasimidis, defending, said Leat had shown "genuine repentance" for his actions.

Image caption The court was told how Leat would abuse the girls as they read aloud in class

He told the court a psychiatric report found they started when his 27-year marriage became "asexual" 10 years ago.

"He is truly ashamed of the whole business," Mr Gerasimidis said.

"This man was in a school, teaching, and parents who sent their children there did not send them there to experience what they did at his hands.

"It has led to the disassembly of his whole life. He is to be divorced from his wife and his children want nothing more to do with him.

"It is to his shame that he acted as he did. Through me, he wants to make a public apology to the families he has devastated."

Speaking outside the court, Det Supt Geoff Wessell of Avon and Somerset Police, said: "The court heard the full extent of the behaviour of Nigel Leat in the most shocking detail.

"It is quite clear that the court has heard that he is a predatory paedophile who has broken the trust and confidence of both the parents that sent their children to the school and its staff."

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