Monday, 24 September 2018

Headteacher lied to police

A FORMER headteacher of Woodcote Primary School lied to police when he was interviewed over claims that he had sexually abused children, a jury heard.

A FORMER headteacher of Woodcote Primary School lied to police when he was interviewed over claims that he had sexually abused children, a jury heard.

Christopher Field, 47, is on trial at Oxford Crown Court accused of inappropriately touching two girls aged under 13 and downloading child pornography.

He was arrested at his home in Green Lane, Chieveley, after the first girl complained in September 2014. Officers seized his computer and found 13 indecent videos in its “recycle bin”.

Field was then headteacher at Kennet Valley Primary School in Reading, which he joined in 2013 after six years in Woodcote.

The girl claimed that between September 2010 and July 2011 he had repeatedly touched her in intimate areas and in one incident he forced her to touch his private area and kissed her on the lips.

The court heard that officers had asked the married father-of-four whether concerns had been raised about his conduct towards children in his 17 years of teaching.

Field said no but the police found a complaint that he touched a young girl inappropriately had been made. This was investigated internally and the allegations withdrawn after everyone concerned agreed it had been a “misunderstanding”.

Soon after this emerged, the second girl came forward, saying Field had stroked and squeezed her thigh several times between September and November 2012.

Field was interviewed again and admitted lying but said he feared officers would assume he was guilty of the first allegation. He also denied downloading the indecent videos and said it could have been another family member using the computer.

Field, who previously taught at Goring Primary School, told jurors he could not have assaulted the first girl because he would have been working.

He said that at school his approach was “fairly tactile” and he used to let children sit on his lap but then stopped this to maintain a professional distance. He admitted he would still hug younger children or hold their hands if they asked but never initiated contact.

Before becoming a teacher, he worked at a youth club in Reading for children under 12.

Field said: “I found it very difficult adjusting to a classroom situation… and to stop being that informal. I knew I had to make the change but it was very hard and occasionally I would hug them or let them sit on my lap.”

Rebecca Austin, prosecuting, said a staff member at Woodcote primary had expressed concern about a group of girls whom Field “paid attention to”. She said the girls would “giggle and flirt” with him.

Field admitted he would link arms with them but said he never hugged them or behaved inappropriately.

Ms Austin said the indecent images were mostly downloaded between 11pm and midnight and whoever viewed them also looked at pornography and adult-oriented chat sites.

The computer’s browsing history included references to “teens” and “schoolgirls”. One mentioned “Lolita” while another contained the phrase “pre-teen models”.

Ms Austin said the images were erased on a weekday morning when forms signed by Field showed he was off on paternity leave.

Field said he had in fact gone into school as it was a training day but worked alone in his office and didn’t change the paperwork accordingly.

He denied downloading or deleting any of the images and said he had “no idea” who did.

Ms Austin asked: “Mr Field, you have a sexual interest in young girls, don’t you, and the allegations against you are correct, aren’t they?”

Field replied: “No. Absolutely not.”

He denies three counts of sexual assault on a child, another of causing a child to engage in sexual activity and a fifth of making indecent images of children. The trial before Judge Zoe Smith continues.

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