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Monday, 29 April, 2002, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
'New evidence' halts abuse hearing
John Owen inquiry
The inquiry has given police new evidence
An inquiry into the handling of child abuse allegations against a former drama teacher and television writer from south Wales has been adjourned at the request of the police.

South Wales Police called for the delay so they could follow up new evidence given to Wales's children's commissioner during an inquiry into the activities of the late John Owen.

John Owen
John Owen killed himself last October

Mr Owen, writer of the S4C youth drama Pam Fi Duw? (Why Me, God?), killed himself last October - the day before he was due to stand trial accused of abusing pupils while teaching at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen in Pontypridd between 1977 and 1992.

As a result of the evidence, detectives are investigating new claims against people, believed to be teachers or former teachers, who are still alive.

On Monday the inquiry heard for the first time allegations that Mr Owen abused a female pupil at the school.

The woman who was a sixth-form pupil at the time told how Mr Owen began to show an interest in her at a time when her home life was unstable.

She said that the pair would kiss in his office in school and that he would touch her. He also told her that he loved her.

Children's Commissioner Peter Clarke
Peter Clarke will examine issues involved

The Clywch inquiry, at the University of Glamorgan in Treforest near Cardiff, was due to hear evidence from seven of Owen's alleged victims - five men and two women.

The inquiry is to resume on Friday 3 May but it is unclear whether further evidence will be heard then.

A representative from a teaching union was present at the inquiry on Monday to represent a person " who might be concerned with the inquiry".

But the counsel for the inquiry, Nicholas Cooke QC, stated that this new police investigation did not point to the existence of a paedophile ring at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen where Mr Owen taught drama until he resigned in 1991.

The inquiry into John Owen is the first inquiry to be held by Wales's Children's Commissioner, Peter Clarke, since his appointment in spring 2001.

Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen:
Owen taught drama at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen

It follows the Waterhouse report into widespread abuse at children's homes in north Wales.

On its opening in March, he said it was intended to be investigative rather than judgemental, and would not be concerned with civil or criminal liability.

After Mr Owen, from Tylorstown in the Rhondda, quit amid complaints about his teaching methods, he wrote Pam Fi Duw? as a novel, which later became a popular Welsh-language television drama series.

Last year, four of Owen's former pupils came forward with abuse allegations dating back to the 1970s.

He was charged with five counts of indecency with boys between 1974 and 1991.

In October 2001, he failed to appear at Cardiff Crown Court for a pre-trial hearing and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Committed suicide

The next day he was found dead in a caravan at Trecco Bay, Porthcawl on the south Wales coast.

An inquest at Pontypridd in December heard how Owen killed himself with an overdose of morphine.

Coroner Phillip Walters said he was satisfied it was the abuse allegations which led him to commit suicide.

The hearing is due to continue until June with a report being published by the end of the year.

BBC Wales's Gail Foley
"We're told that a teacher or a former teacher may be involved in giving evidence to the police but we know no more than that"
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