South East Wales

Teacher Nicholas John Lewis banned for life for indecent assaults

Nicholas Lewis
Image caption Nicholas Lewis was previously cleared of indecent assault at crown court

A primary school teacher accused of indecently assaulting pupils and a child in the community has been banned from teaching for life.

Nicholas John Lewis denied indecent assault and inappropriate behaviour at the Cardiff school and at a leisure centre.

A Cardiff Crown Court jury cleared him of indecent assault in 2009.

But a General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) panel found the allegations against him proven.

Mr Lewis, who was not present, has 28 days from the receipt of the judgement to appeal against the ban to the High Court.

On Tuesday, the hearing was told about a dozen pupils had made very similar claims that Mr Lewis had put his hands down boys' trousers and underneath shirts, sometimes while marking their work at the front of the classroom.

The incidents in school had happened over a period of seven years. Mr Lewis was arrested in June 2008 and suspended from his job. He was dismissed in 2010 following an internal school investigation.

The panel, chaired by Jacquie Turnbull, upheld two claims of indecent assault, one involving school children and one relating to a child in the community.

The also found him guilty of inappropriate behaviour towards pupils, and towards children at a city swimming pool.

'Deep-seated attitudinal problem'

An allegation of indecent assault on a child at the city leisure centre was found not proven.

Issuing a prohibition order banning Mr Lewis from teaching in maintained schools, Mrs Turnbull said: "There was serious misconduct which took place over a number of years.

"Mr Lewis has denied the allegations and has failed to demonstrate any insight into his behaviour and there has been no apology."

She added: "This suggests there was a deep-seated attitudinal problem."

Presenting officer Gwenno Hughes-Marshall had told the hearing one child explained Mr Lewis would ask him to stand next to him while marking his work and put his hand on the child's bottom.

The desk was shielded at the front by drawer units, the panel was told.

Another said Mr Lewis had called him over, told him "you're the light of my life", then put his hand down the front of his trousers and boxer shorts and under his shirt, saying, "Does this feel nice?"

The children's reports about Mr Lewis's behaviour and the words he had used were consistent across several years.

The panel had heard the children did not all know one another, despite claims of collusion made by Mr Lewis.

'Consistent pattern of behaviour'

Some of Mr Lewis's colleagues had spoken to the school investigation in his defence, saying he was an excellent teacher who did have a tendency to put his arm around pupils, but it was all done in the open.

The deputy head teacher had warned him on a number of occasions that it was not appropriate.

The panel had also heard evidence from leisure centre staff that they had watched Mr Lewis for about six months because he would visit the pool only at times children were likely to be present and would swim very close to or among them and go under the water to watch them.

Staff eventually contacted police after a boy made an allegation that Mr Lewis had touched his bottom in the changing room.

Explaining the panel's findings, Mrs Turnbull said: "We have noted the account of former pupils from different year groups. Their accounts describe a consistent pattern of behaviour.

"We have noted that Mr Lewis had said the pupils were colluding. We think this is unlikely."

In relation to the behaviour witnessed in the swimming pool, Mrs Turnbull said: "Teachers have a responsibility to maintain professional standards and demonstrate appropriate behaviour towards children even outside the school environment."

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