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Former Valentines High School head of DT banned from teaching over perverting the course of justice conviction

PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 February 2019

A stock photograph of a teacher at a secondary school. Picture: PA

A stock photograph of a teacher at a secondary school. Picture: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

A former Valentines High School teacher has been banned from teaching for a minimum of five years after being convicted of perverting the course of justice in 2016.

A Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) professional conduct panel heard last month (January 16) that 57-year-old Patrick Sime had received a suspended three-month sentence after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice during a police investigation into an alleged sexual offence in 2014.

He had been accused of an act of voyeurism – namely filming a child in the bathroom. There is no suggestion this child was one of his pupils.

Although he denied this, he did admit destroying a laptop and mobile phone before prosecutors were able to examine them.

Mr Sime had worked at Valentines High since April 18, 2006, and was at the time of his conviction the head of design and technology at the Cranbrook Road school.

On July 7, 2014, the school was informed that Mr Sime had been arrested in relation to an offence under the Sexual Offences Act and a secondary offence of perverting the course of justice.

The incident in question had taken place in June 2014, and part of his bail conditions were not to attend the school.

As a result of this, Mr Sime took long-term sick leave.

The Crown Prosecution Service made the decision to prosecute Mr Sime, and he was formally suspended by Valentines High School on June 15, 2015.

He pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice at Snaresbrook Crown Court on January 15, 2016.

However, Mr Sime denied a second offence of voyeurism, and this charge never proceeded any further, instead the court ordered it to remain on file.

After his conviction, Mr Sime’s case was referred to the TRA by both Valentines High School and Redbridge Council.

In a witness statement to the TRA, Mr Sime admitted he had thrown away his mobile phone.

But he added: “I do not accept that the reason why I destroyed the telephone was because the telephone contained any illegal or indecent images.”

The TRA’s official decision report states that when it considered Mr Sime’s actions in destroying the mobile phone and laptop “the court had concluded that he committed a serious offence and ‘undermined the very essence of the criminal justice system’”.

However, the panel did note that the judge who sentenced Mr Sime in 2016 “was prepared to accept that there was nothing incriminatory on the [mobile phone and laptop] and Mr Sime “acted out of panic and concern about what was being alleged”.

It also took into account his long career in education, his remorse and regret at his own actions, and the fact there had been no previous disciplinary actions against him.

But this did not, in the panel’s view, outweigh the fact that Mr Sime had made a conscious decision to destroy evidence, and it even noted that it “did not entirely accept Mr Sime’s explanation for events”.

It concluded that: “Mr Sime’s actions amounted to a clear breach of the Teachers’ Standards.”

It imposed an indefinite prohibition order on Mr Sime, meaning he is banned from teaching indefinitely and cannot teach in any educational institute for young people in England.

He is entitled to appeal this decision, but not until January 31, 2024.

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