Page last updated at 16:35 GMT, Friday, 29 May 2009 17:35 UK

Head guilty of nine sex charges

David Thorley
David Thorley was convicted of nine charges of sex assault

A primary school head teacher has been found guilty of nine sex assault charges against children.

David Thorley, 56, from Carmarthen, who had denied charges of sexually assaulting five girls was cleared of two of the 11 charges.

Eight of the original 19 charges were withdrawn at Swansea Crown Court after Judge Michael Burr said they lacked "evidence of quality".

The judge told Thorley that a custodial sentence seemed inevitable.

Judge Michael Burr told the head teacher he was willing to adjourn sentence until a probation officer had prepared a report into his background.

The sentencing hearing will either be at the end of June or early July.

The chances of anything other than a custodial sentence are not very high
Judge Michael Burr

The trial jury had heard how Thorley had "an unhealthy interest in young girls" and he had abused his position to sexually assault them.

Under the pretext of applying medicinal cream or taking the girls to the toilet, he had taken down their trousers and pants and touched them intimately.

Thorley was also convicted of sexually assaulting two young girls after taking them swimming.

The head teacher denied all the allegations and said he had behaved according to child protection guidelines.

He said some of the examinations had in fact been carried out by women staff members.

Affairs in order

His barrister, Marian Lewis, said she would try to persuade the judge not to jail him.

But the judge said: "The inevitability is custody. I can't see any other consequence. I'm certain."

Judge Burr said he was willing to consider a pre sentence report because it might reveal something about Thorley that he was not aware of.

But he repeated: "The chances of anything other than a custodial sentence are not very high."

Thorley was granted bail in the meantime. Miss Lewis said it would give him time to put his affairs in order.

The jury had heard how Thorley, had risen to the top of his profession and had been appointed a lead inspector of schools by Estyn, Wales' official schools inspection body.

Thorley is currently suspended from his post and will remain so until the matter is resolved
Gerson Davies, Pembrokeshire Council

During his trial he described his prosecution as "devastating." He told the jury, "It's a tragedy. It's broken our hearts."

A large group of supporters packed into the court and many broke down in tears as the jury foreman announced the verdicts.

Afterwards, Pembrokeshire Director of Education, Gerson Davies, said the school governors would now set in motion a process required by the Welsh Assembly Government.

"This involves the school's staff disciplinary committee appointing an independent investigator to report his findings on the case," explained Mr Davies.

"The guidelines make it quite clear that the investigation must be undertaken by an independent person with no links or bias towards either pupils or the member of staff involved.

Distressing chapter

"The guidelines also state the investigation must take place prior to the governing body commencing any disciplinary proceedings.

"Mr Thorley is currently suspended from his post and will remain so until the matter is resolved," Mr Davies added.

Dyfed-Powys Police issued a statement at the end of trial saying the force "carried out a thorough, prolonged and professional investigation which has resulted in today's verdict.

"It is important to remember that this case represents children who were subjected to abuse by someone in a position of trust," said the force.

"We hope the verdict will help the families bring some form of closure on this distressing chapter of their lives.

"This case should send a clear message to others who may believe they can use their professional position to target the vulnerable in our communities."

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