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Radio ham emailed false accusation about teacher to school after online spat
Amateur radio enthusiast Gareth Evans has been given a three-year conditional discharge after he emailed a school to say one of its teachers was a pornographer and a danger to children.
The teacher, Brian Reay, was also a ham radio enthusiast and the two men met over an internet forum for fans of the hobby.
Evans, who denied a charge of sending an offensive/indecent/obscene/menacing message, said for the past nine years he had been ‘goaded’ by Mr Reay, who he claimed was racist towards the Welsh.
The maths teacher broke down in tears at the North West Wiltshire Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday last week as he described how the email has impacted his life.
Mr Reay, who teaches at the Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School in Rochester, said: “It’s every teacher’s worst nightmare.”
He described how he was called in to the deputy headteacher’s office after an email allegedly entitled, “is a pornographer loose in your school?” was sent to three high-ranking members of staff.
Mr Reay said he had not lost his job as a result but was informed during the meeting that the school had already spoken to the police.
Evans, of Hardens Close, Chippenham, who represented himself, brought as evidence 50 occasions where he said Mr Reay had been grossly offensive, which he believed was specifically targeting his Welsh wife, including “it keeps him off the street and away from sheep and youngsters,” which Evans said was an attempt to ‘goad and provoke’ him.
Paula Mulhern, prosecuting, said his claims were “simply nonsense”, and told him: “You said that Mr Reay is a danger to children.
“There is nothing to say either directly or indirectly that he is a danger to children.
“You say you were really worried about the well-being of children yet it took you seven years to contact the school.”
Evans said: “That is simply not true, I aired my concerns over the internet many times.
“My concerns for children were valid.
“I genuinely believe he should not be in a position where he is allowed to teach children.
“If he was teaching a class and a child had the surname of Williams or Jones, something racist may slip out as it has done when he discusses the Welsh on the forum.”
District judge Simon Cooper found Evans guilty, and imposed a restraining order forbidding him to contact any employer of Mr Reay for three years, as well as costs of £625.
He said Evans had a ‘distorted’ view of what had been “purile and absurd banter”.
Mr Cooper said: “These exchanges on the forum were not explicit nor in any way pornographic that I can see.
“This email was sent with the sole intent of getting Mr Reay removed from his position because you and you alone deemed him to be unsuitable as a teacher. In that sense this was offensive to Mr Reay.
“Equally they were menacing and hysterical in nature and tone.
“This is childish, humorous banter that no one in their right mind would take seriously.
“You have made up your mind that you don’t accept the charge and don’t understand it and so a risk still remains that you will contact a future employer of Mr Reay, which is why I have decided to impose the restraining order.”