Government intervenes to clear paedophile primary teacher after child commits suicide
Primary school teacher accused of sending sex texts to boy who killed himself cleared after Government intervenes
Anthony Stubbs, 16, vanished after girlfriend Charlotte Mason found texts
Primary teacher Iwan Harding cleared of sending indecent messages
There was a dramatic last-minute intervention from Government lawyers
Pair met up through dating website Love Leap
By NAZIA PARVEEN
PUBLISHED: 00:21, 13 July 2013 | UPDATED: 00:21, 13 July 2013
A primary school teacher accused of sending ‘lewd’ sex messages to a teenage boy who then committed suicide has been cleared after a dramatic last-ditch intervention by Government lawyers.
A judge was set to rule on the case of Iwan Harding, 34, after a trial heard he sent sexually explicit text messages to 16-year-old Anthony Stubbs about having sex in his school uniform.
A court heard Harding asked Anthony, a prefect pupil and father-of-one from Leyland, Lancashire, about the size of his manhood and described him as a ‘horny lad’.
The court was told that the teacher also sent indecent images of himself to the teenager along with an explicit video of two men performing a sex act.
Anthony’s girlfriend found messages on his phone and confronted the ‘confused’ teenager. He disappeared from home and was later found hanged.
But yesterday the senior legal advisor to the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer, ordered the CPS in Wales to drop the prosecution.
District Judge Andrew Shaw was told by prosecutor Julie Hughes at Llanberis Magistrates Court: ‘This was a sensitive case which was reviewed carefully at the highest level and the area was satisfied both the evidential and public interest criteria had been met.
‘However, the principal legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions has taken a different view. She is of the view proceedings shouldn’t be proceeded with.’ Miss Hughes added: ‘From the area’s point of view we aren’t of the belief there was any error or omission in bringing the prosecution.’ No evidence was offered after the case was reopened.
Iwan Harding appeared at Caernarfon Crown Court accused of sending indecent texts
Iwan Harding has been cleared after a dramatic last-minute intervention by Government lawyers
Anthony’s mother, Denise Machin, 35, said she was ‘disgusted’ by the decision.
She said: ‘This man is a school teacher and it scares me that he could potentially be free to carry on teaching children after what he has done.
‘He has abused his position of trust. This man is the same age as me and he knew Anthony was a schoolboy.
‘I’ve not had any contact from the CPS about this case and have had to read about this man’s explicit messages to my son in the press. It has been heartbreaking all over again for me, my family and Charlotte. I’ve received no victim support and we all just felt sick when we saw what this man was accused of.
‘I think the judge should have been left to come to a verdict. This is not just about Anthony, this is to protect other children as well.
‘Anthony was a young man who had only just turned 16 and was just trying to find his sexuality. This man has taken advantage of that and was pressuring him with sexually explicit videos and text messages.
‘That pressure from this man and others contributed to his death, in my opinion.
‘I will do everything in my power to stop him abusing his position again.’ Following the trial, Judge Shaw had reserved his judgment to take more time to reflect because the case was an ‘important’ one which could have ‘substantial implications’ for future hearings.
But yesterday, Judge Shaw told Harding: ‘There’s no prosecution for me to consider and I find you not guilty.’ The teacher of Llanberis, Gwynedd declined to comment as he left court.
A spokesman for the CPS in London said: ‘We have reconsidered our position on the allegations against Iwan Harding and informed the court and defence that we no longer believe this prosecution should proceed. We offered no evidence against Mr Harding at the magistrates’ court.’ At the earlier hearing the prosecution alleged the messages were ‘obscene and indecent’.
Miss Hughes said last month: ‘We are talking about a 33-year-old primary school teacher sending text messages of such a nature and photographs of his penis and video of another male to a person he knows is a schoolboy. He believes him to be 17 but he’s actually 16.’ ‘The messages themselves are obscene and indecent and, to an extent, that is conceded by the defendant in interview,’ she added.
Tudur Owen, defending Harding, previously told the court that the case raised ‘issues of public concern’ because the Crown was alleging that the sending of salacious texts between two individuals amounted to a criminal act.
Mr Owen said: ‘It’s a tragic case [but] there were no fixed plans for the men to meet. A lot of it is effectively fantasy.’
Harding, who has been suspended by his school, accepted he sent images and a video to Anthony who, he said, had claimed to be 17.
But he denied sending grossly offensive or indecent, obscene messages between October 7 and 19 last year.
Anthony discovered he was going to be a father when he was 15 and had just celebrated his 16th birthday when Lily was born last September.
He went missing on November 24 last year following an argument with his partner and mother of his child Charlotte Mason, 18, after she discovered messages on his phone.
Detective Sergeant Richard Horton, of Lancashire police, said that although Anthony’s body was not found until January 14, he had killed himself in woods near his Leyland home soon after he vanished.
His mobile phone showed he had contacted 14 people through Love Leap, including a 47-year-old Manchester man.
The teenager also spoke to 12 others via the internet video telephone service Skype.
He and Harding had met on the dating site Love Leap. The teenager had registered as ‘young sexy gay’. The pair had been in contact previously on Facebook and Anthony sent messages through the course of the ‘virtual relationship’, the court heard.
Miss Hughes said the subsequent text messages were of an ‘extremely explicit sexual nature’. Messages went both ways. But the prosecutor said: ‘In comparison to the ones sent to Mr Stubbs there’s a marked difference in the content.’ Harding’s solicitor said his future employment would be a matter for the General Teaching Council for Wales.