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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 April, 2004, 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK
Coroner calls for sex law change
Alastair Wilbee
Mr Wilbee was dreading a media report on the preliminary hearing
A coroner has called for anonymity for people accused of sex offences after the suicide of a head teacher charged with indecently assaulting a pupil.

John Matthews blamed the allegation against Isle of Wight teacher Alastair Wilbee for causing distress that led to the 47-year-old's suicide last August.

He had been suspended from Summerfields Primary School in Newport in May.

The father-of-two was charged with abusing a boy under 14 on a residential trip, but died before the trial.

Mr Wilbee first attempted suicide on the day he was suspended from school, but was found and taken to hospital, an inquest in Newport heard on Tuesday.

Decomposed body

On 28 August, he left the family home in Shanklin, the day before details of a preliminary court hearing were due to be published in a local newspaper.

His badly decomposed body was found three months later hanging by a rope from a tree at Cowleaze, near Shanklin.

His widow, Gail Whiting, said there was "a simple explanation" about what happened on the trip that would have come out in due course.

Mr Matthews said: "The stigma remains with a person forever whether there is an acquittal or if charges are withdrawn.

"It would have been very difficult for Mr Wilbee if he had been acquitted to have continued in his job."

National Association of Head Teachers general secretary David Hart has called for anonymity to be granted to people in positions of responsibility accused of sexual offences.



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05 Sep 03  |  Hampshire/Dorset


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