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Wednesday, 5 December, 2001, 19:09 GMT
Writer took overdose after sex claims
John Owen at Rhondda Magistrates Court
John Owen at an earlier court hearing
Television writer John Owen killed himself with a massive overdose of morphine after being accused of assaulting school children, an inquest has heard.

Mr Owen, 49, faced allegations of sexually assaulting pupils while he was a teacher at Ysgol Rhydfelen, near Pontypridd, during a 10-year peroid.
Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen: Taught at school
Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen: Taught at school

Teacher Theda Williams, a former girlfriend of Owen's for six years, said: "John had a larger than life, charismatic character and was immensely patriotic.

"But after he was charged he was devastated and depressed.

"We both had feelings of a great deal of betrayal and bewilderment.

"During our conversations it became clear to me that suicide was on John's mind."

Ms Williams said a book was found by Mr Owen's body inside the caravan.

"It was open on a page referring to a Welshman being in exile in his own country," she said.

At Pontypridd magistrates' court, coroner Phillip Walters said he was satisfied it was these allegations which led to Mr Owen to commit suicide.

Teaching complaints

But Mr Walters said the hearing was not in a position to consider issues of Mr Owen's guilt or innocence.

He added the writer's death was a great loss to Welsh drama.

Mr Owen taught at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen until 1991, when he quit amid complaints about his teaching methods.

He was due to appear at Cardiff Crown Court to face the charges earlier this year but failed to attend.
Trecco Bay: Body found in caravan
Trecco Bay: Body found in caravan

His body was later found in a caravan at Porthcawl by police.

Mr Owen wrote the novel of Pam Fi Duw? after quitting teaching and the book went on to become a hit, six-series television drama.

S4C was criticised for screening the final programme in the last series shortly after the discovery of Mr Owen's body, but the latest series has been put on hold as inquiries are held.

In November, the Children's Commissioner for Wales announced he would examine the case of Mr Owen amid claims of abuse against pupils.

Peter Clarke said his inquiry would not look establish the guilt, or otherwise, of Mr Owen, but at the lessons to be learned to ensure children are protected from harm.

"I have been approached by a number of people about this, including some representatives of those who were John Owen's pupils," he said.

Examination into claims

"I want this examination to take all the relevant facts into account.

"I would like to hear from anyone directly involved. I will announce how people may do this when the terms of reference are made public."

Mr Clarke added: "We may hopefully allow all involved to move on, having learned what we need to from these sad events."

The inquiry is due to go ahead in March 2002.

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BBC Wales's Sian Lloyd
"The court was told Owen took a cocktail of tablets"
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