FURIOUS parents voiced their frustration today after finding out an internet paedophile caught with 929 indecent images had been in close contact with nursery pupils.
The concerned parents gathered outside George Street Primary in Pontypool to confront the school authorities after teaching assistant Simon Williams admitted downloading hundreds of vile images of children, when he appeared in court yesterday.
The 39-year-old was bailed after admitting having 929 files, including 219 category A images – the highest possible.
Families criticised the school for breaking the news in sealed letters handed over to their children on the day Williams appeared in court.
One parent, Richard Darch, 35, said: “I feel handing out letters on such a sensitive subject was a wrong way of handling the situation.
“This is what has caused a lot of anger among parents.”
Williams, of Blaendare Road, Pontypool, was immediately suspended after being caught in a UK wide child porn crackdown.
George Street Primary headteacher, Julie Wood, said in the letter the charges did not relate to any children at the school or the Torfaen community.
Torfaen council interim head of education service, Dermot McChrystal, told the parents outside George Street Primary there was no evidence anything untoward had happened at the school.
Mr McChrystal said: “He presented himself as someone who was very good with children, he was very supportive and kind in class and we had no reason to believe that anything happened in school that was untoward, put someone at risk or that anyone was harmed. We have no evidence of that whatsoever.”
Gwent Police Insp John Davies told the parents: “A large number of images were found on the computers belonging to this individual, all of which had been downloaded from the internet.
“There was no suggestion that anything had come from any schools or anything locally.
“There had never been any concerns about Mr Williams’ behaviour in the three months that he was at this school towards your children.”
But Mr Darch told the Argus: “There is no way of knowing this man hasn’t been alone with children.”
His wife Peggy said she hoped he would be given custody when he is sentenced on October 24.
Another parent Laura Perham, 30, said: “I do trust the teachers. That’s why I have left my daughter there.
“I think the teachers have gone about it the best way that they could.”
Williams is understood to have worked at a special needs resource unit at Pontymoile Primary School beforehand.
Education chiefs are to hold a further meeting with parents in the next few days to discuss the matter further.
Mr McChrystal added in a statement: “Simon Williams appeared in Cwmbran magistrates’ court on Wednesday and pleaded guilty to possession of indecent images of children.
“This is an extremely serious matter which was part of a national police investigation. Due to the ongoing legal proceedings we could not disclose detail about this to parents while the court case was active.
“Mr Williams was suspended immediately the allegations emerged and the Torfaen schools where Mr Williams has worked have co-operated fully with Gwent Police as they conducted their investigations. The disclosure of further information on this case is a matter for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service, however, we have spoken to some parents at the school today and will update parents if further information is forthcoming.”
South Wales Argus