/12 teachers and assistants every parent needs to know about

12 teachers and assistants every parent needs to know about

Teachers and school staff who have abused and exploited their position of trust continue to shock ECHO readers.

In recent years, a range of horrific cases have been brought before the courts involving teachers and assistants who have committed sickening crimes.

From a head teacher who was caught with a disturbing collection of child sex abuse images to a teacher who faked having terminal cancer to pocket thousands in charity cash, readers have been left horrified.

These men and women have not only betrayed the trust of parents and guardians but their actions will have a serious and lasting impact on the children involved.

Here are 12 teachers and school staff who have ended up in the dock in recent times.

Robert Pearson

Robert Pearson was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment at Liverpool Crown Court
(Image: Merseyside Police)

Robert Pearson, a former head teacher “addicted” to child sex abuse images, was put behind bars for a third time in 2019.

Pearson was acting head of Campion RC high school in Everton when he was caught the first time and jailed for five years and nine months in 2003.

He had even used pictures of a young girl he had abused to win status with up to 40 internet perverts.

The dad-of-two was released in March, 2006, but was soon using seedy chat rooms again.

In April 2011 he was jailed for a further four years for distributing indecent images at which time the court heard that he was “addicted” to them.

On October 18, 2019, Pearson was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment at Liverpool Crown Court.

The 68-year-old was arrested after police raided his flat on The Promenade, Southport, on September 26 last year armed with a search warrant.

Robert Pearson, from Southport, in South Sefton Magistrates Court
(Image: Liverpool Echo)

He denied having any indecent images of children but his laptop and tower computer were seized and forensically examined, said Simon Duncan, prosecuting.

Analysis of the equipment only revealed a total of 17 images including seven in the most serious category, one of them a video but he was found to have installed a special application which allows images to be deleted without trace of their removal.

Pearson was the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order at the time which banned him using such applications.

He had also installed Zoom software on his computer allowing him to participate in video conferences to discuss child abuse with other paedophiles and swap images.

The pervert pleaded guilty to three offences of making indecent images, one of possessing them and breaching the SOPO.

Pearson was handed a two and a half year prison sentence.

He was also given an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order and he was ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life.

Charles Elli

Charles Ellis, 60, of Oakfield Drive, Upton in Chester, was convicted of ten offences of sexually assaulting six girls, who were just eight and nine-years-old at the time.

Charles Ellis used his job as a primary school teacher to sexually abuse six girls aged eight and nine.

When one victim of Charles Ellis came forward to police in 2013, no prosecution was brought against him.

Instead he was given training about how to not touch children inappropriately at the Wirral school where he worked.

But his sickening abuse carried on for another three years.

The 60-year-old of Oakfield Drive, Upton, was convicted of 10 offences against six girls after a trial at Liverpool Crown Court in November, during which he denied all the allegations. 

In November 2019, Liverpool Crown Court  heard how Ellis, who was aged 60 at the time, would put his hand on the girls’ backs under their clothes, touch their bottoms under and over their clothes and touch their legs.

With two of the girls, when they said they were unwell, Ellis used the pretext of seeing where the pain was to inappropriately touch them.

Charlotte Kenny, prosecuting, told how Ellis had been employed at the school, which the  ECHO has chosen not to name, since 2002.

The offences spanned over eight years.

Ms Kenny claimed that Ellis was “motivated by sexual gratification” and “abused his position of trust” before more victims and a member of staff came forward to complain.

After his behaviour was reported by one of the victims, the police again became involved and revisited the earlier report about his behaviour.

A member of staff had also twice reported feeling uncomfortable about his touching some of the girl pupils.

He was suspended by the school in April 2017.

Ellis was jailed for three years.

He was ordered to sign on the Sex Offenders Register for life and to comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

Lydia Beattie-Milligan

Lydia Beattie-Milligan, 43, of Kingsley Close, Lydiate, Merseyside, found guilty of meeting a schoolboy after grooming
Lydia Beattie-Milligan, 43, of Kingsley Close, Lydiate, Merseyside
(Image: Lynda Roughley)

Lydia Beattie-Milligan groomed a vulnerable school boy and arranged to meet him in a hotel room for sex.

In September 2019, teaching assistant Beattie-Milligan, 43, of Kingsley Close, Lydiate, was found guilty of arranging to meet a child following sexual grooming.

The married mum-of-two, who had worked in education for 25 years, intended to spend a Saturday night alone with her victim, who suffered from anxiety issues, in Haydock.

A jury heard her texts to a friend about buying sexy underwear and giving him a lap dance, ahead of “major f***ing”.

She befriended the student, changed the way she dressed to catch his attention, and they exchanged mobile phone numbers.

Lydia Beattie-Milligan, 43, of Kingsley Close, Lydiate, Merseyside, found guilty of meeting a schoolboy after grooming
Lydia Beattie-Milligan, 43, of Kingsley Close, Lydiate, Merseyside, found guilty of meeting a schoolboy after grooming
(Image: Lynda Roughley)

She groomed him into what he believed was a relationship, with what the judge described as “sexual connotations and undertones”.

Beattie-Milligan denied the offence and said: “I have 100% no interest in children in a sexual way.”

But it was in text messages to a friend – who wrongly believed Beattie-Milligan was talking about an affair with an adult – that she revealed her sick intentions.

During the trial, Judge Woodhall said: “You referred to trimming your body hair, you said you were going to make sure you were looking amazing, that you were going to do a lap dance for him and get some sexy underwear and in your words – not mine – in one text saying “major f***ing going on”.

Beattie-Milligan was suspended from her job at the school after another staff member noticed her “acting too familiar” with the boy and giving him bonus points in class.

When they joked with the child that he must be her favourite, the victim revealed incriminating text messages on his phone.

She was suspended, but the court heard the boy’s vulnerabilities meant he struggled to deal with what she had done to him.

His health and behaviour was affected and he was left “mistrustful of professionals”, making it more difficult to get help

During the trial in September, Judge Woodhall said: “You of all people must have known what you were doing and why it was so wrong.

“Boys like him sometimes need protecting not only from others but also from themselves, lacking the maturity and skills to make appropriate decisions.

“You were employed to protect him and help him, and for your own benefit, fulfilment and reward, you breached that significant trust which had been placed in you.”

Beattie-Milligan was jailed for two years.

She was ordered to sign on the Sex Offenders Register and to comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years.

Carlo Troiano

Carlo Troiano, from Wirral, moved to Spain for a new teaching job
(Image: Facebook)

Carlo Troiano groomed a 14-year-old girl in his class and told her “You are like my own Barbie.”

Troiano, 42, from Heswall, Wirral, first stood trial in January 2010 where he was accused of asking a schoolgirl to perform sex acts on him.

He was found not guilty of three charges of causing or enticing sexual activity with a 16-year-old pupil in a classroom at Bankfield High School in Widnes, Cheshire.

But the dad-of-two, now divorced from his ex-wife, was still dismissed from his job by governors at the school, which shut in 2014.

Troiano was cleared by a jury after a four-day trial at Warrington Crown Court, who ruled after listening to the evidence that they did not believe the girl had been telling the truth.

Troiano then moved abroad and took a job at the prestigious St George’s British School of Almeria in the Spanish holiday resort of Roquetas de Mar.

St George’s British School of Almeria
(Image: Google Street View)

He abused his position as a girl’s teacher at the school in Spain, to commit “continued sexual abuse.”

His two-day trial for sexually abusing a minor started on October 1, 2019, at Almeria’s Provincial Court and finished the following day.

They ruled the victim, who was 14 when Troiano began to seduce her, after being hired in August 2014, was sexually abused over a six-month period.

It started in May 2016 and only ended when her mum reported him to police.

The victim told the court he groomed her by favouring her in class, liking her Instagram photos and persuading her to get a tattoo done.

She said she was in her school uniform when he offered her alcohol before kissing her for the first time.

She told the three trial judges Troiano had pressured her into continuing to see him by insisting he would quit his job and leave her class without a teacher when she told him he was “wasting his time” with her.

The victim also revealed she discovered he had filmed them having sex without her consent after finding the video on his email account.

Troiano was jailed for 11 and a half years in October 2019.

He was banned from the classroom for the same time period and ordered to pay his victim €50,000 (£43,180).

Keera Brayford

Keera Brayford of Cedar Road, Whiston

Keera Brayford faked having terminal cancer in order to pocket thousands in charity cash.

Teacher Brayford, of Cedar Road, Whiston duped her family and friends by claiming she had three types of tumours which were growing and likely to kill her.

The 25-year-old managed to fleece kind-hearted donors who were convinced she was terminally ill as she described undergoing aggressive chemotherapy.

In total, Brayford conned her way to just over £19,000, a Proceeds of Crime application heard.

But she only had £10,515 still available which a judge at Liverpool Crown Court told her in February 2019, to pay back.

Keera Brayford outside Liverpool Crown Court.
Keera Brayford outside Liverpool Crown Court.

That sum has been deemed already paid because it remained in the JustGiving online account, untouched.

That was intended to be transferred back to some of the people who promised her money.

Brayford was allowed to walk free from court in November 2018, after a judge described her behaviour as “despicable” but suspended her prison sentence, meaning she was placed on a curfew and an electronic tag.

Brayford made Google searches on “how to defraud an employer” as part of her scam.

Charity fundraising efforts were organised to help her, and one man even planned to jump out of a plane to raise more money for her.

Some of the cash was used to pay off her credit card bills, the court heard.

After months of deceit, Brayford was finally caught and arrested by police, leaving those who knew her astonished by her dishonesty.

She was eventually caught out by staff at the Thomas Sutton Academy in St Helens who suspected she was faking some medical notes.

Brayford was charged with fraud by representation and pleaded guilty to all the offences.

She was spared jail and was ordered to pay back £10,515.

Lee Gallagher

Lee Gallagher, from Halewood, sent disgusting online messages to someone he understood to be a teenage girl
(Image: handout)

Lee Gallagher, who sent disgusting images to someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl, walked free from court.

Pervert Gallagher, of Maldon Close in Halewood, was teaching in Spain when he starting sending obscene pictures and messages on Facebook to a teenage girl called Jessie.

But Jessie did not exist and had been created by Dark Justice, an online group set up to target paedophiles.

Gallagher, 44, who had created a Facebook account in the name of a fictional Steve Jones, sent disgusting messages to Jessie which led Dark Justice to tip off police.

Gallagher was arrested when he flew into Manchester Airport from Spain in May 2018.

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When police searched his mobile phone they found indecent images of a child.

In February 2019, barrister Kate Gaskell, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court that Gallagher sent pictures of his penis to Jessie, and asked her to perform a sex act.

Gallagher also sent Jessie a video of him performing a sex act.

Gallagher pleaded guilty to attempting to cause a female under 13 to engage in sexual activity, attempting to engage in sexual activity with a child, encouraging a child to watch images of a sexual nature and possessing an indecent image of a child.

He was ordered to complete 200 hours of community service and sign the sex offenders register.

He must also comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and ordered to pay costs.

Speaking outside court Gallagher said to the ECHO: “I am very sorry for what I have done.”

Lee Francis Dixon

Lee Francis Dixon
(Image: Steve Rawlins)

Lee Francis Dixon had sex with a 17-year-old girl who he met in a nightclub.

Ex-teacher Dixon, of Flail Close, Greasby, Wirral, was jailed for two years at Chester Crown Court on February 15.

He admitted three counts of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust and one of perverting the course of justice.

However, in May 2018 Dixon, who was 31 at the time, appeared before London’s Appeal Court, where lawyers argued that his punishment was far too harsh and should have been suspended.

Dixon, former captain of Chester Boughton Hall Cricket Club, had worked as a teacher and pastoral care manager.

He had a chance meeting in a nightclub with a 17-year-old girl, which ended up with sexual activity.

On subsequent occasions he took the girl to his own flat and his brother’s empty flat to have sex with her.

When the offences started to come to light, Dixon called the girl and told her to ‘down play’ what had happened between them.

He told her to say it was ‘heavy petting’ and not to reveal that they’d had full sex.

The judge who jailed Dixon said his crimes involved a ‘significant degree of planning’.

A probation officer’s report said Dixon ‘prioritised his needs above the well-being of the girl’.

The report recommended a suspended sentence, but the judge instead imposed the immediate jail term.

In May 2018, at London’s Appeal Court, an appeal judge ruled that the sentence was too long and reduced it to 15 months.

The suspended 15-month jail term included a rehabilitation requirement, a sex offenders treatment programme and 140 hours unpaid work.

Mark Haslock

Mark Haslock, 47, who previously taught at Woodchurch High on Wirral was jailed for eight months at Mold Crown Court, and forced to sign the sex offenders register for the next ten years
Mark Haslock, 47, who previously taught at Woodchurch High on Wirral was jailed for eight months at Mold Crown Court

Mark Haslock was caught with thousands of child sex abuse images on his computer of children as young as four.

Haslock, of Victoria Road in Llandudno, was arrested after police found more than 1,200 images on two computers – 280 of which were in the “most graphic” category.

The teacher, who previously taught at Woodchurch High in Wirral, was arrested after police found more than 1,200 images on two computers – 280 of which were in the “most graphic” category.

Police had recovered 289 images of the most serious category A, 297 category B and 624 category C, involving children as young as four.

At an earlier trial at Caernarfon a jury convicted him of making and possessing indecent images of children, and taking an indecent image between June 2014 and August 2015.

Why we’re doing this story – We have a mix of stories, many of them hugely positive about the city. We will not though, ignore crime as it impacts on many lives.

In deciding which crimes to write about, we consider a range of issues including the severity of the crime, the threat to public safety and the wider context in which it happened. We do not seek to glamorise crime or criminals, rather to shine a spotlight on what is happening in our city.

In this case, it is a follow-up to the initial story we reported last night after Penny Lane was closed off.

How we’re doing this story – This story was written after further information was released by Merseyside Police.

Anything else you need to know – The Liverpool Echo has a dedicated crime reporter in Joe Thomas. You can email Joe via joe.thomas@reachplc.com

Thanks for reading. if you want to ask us any more questions about what the Liverpool Echo does, please email neil.macdonald01@reachplc.com

He was cleared of a charge of voyeurism.

In January 2017, the teacher who had most recently worked at Ysgol y Grango at Rhos near Wrexham, was jailed for eight months at Mold Crown Court.

Haslock, who was 47 at the time of the trial, attempted to defend his actions by saying the images were downloaded while trying to get material for sex education classes.

However Judge Heywood dismissed his excuses as “farcical” – and said he was “still in denial” about the case.

Haslock was jailed for eight months and was made to sign the sex offenders register for the next 10 years.

He was also made the subject of a 10-year ‘sexual harm prevention’ order, which prevents him from working with children or vulnerable adults in the future.

Robert Browne

Robert Browne pictured leaving Liverpool Crown Court in Derby Square, Liverpool.
(Image: Liverpool Echo)

Twisted pervert Robert Browne confessed to making sex workers wear school uniforms for sex.

Browne, who worked as an RE teacher at St Anselm’s College in Wirral, was caught with a sick collection of child abuse images and disgusting animal porn.

Browne, who was 45 at the time of the trial in 2017, taught at an all girl’s school in Sussex before joining the prestigious grammar school for boys in Birkenhead.

The school in Wirral announced that Robert Browne had resigned in November 2016, “for personal reasons beyond our control.”

In August 2017, Liverpool Crown Court heard police in Ireland discovered a USB stick containing disturbing photos, which Browne left at a hostel.

Simon Duncan, prosecuting, said they informed Merseyside Police, who raided his home in Clifton Road, Tranmere on October 7, 2016.

He said: “Two laptops were seized, along with quantities of children’s clothing, including school uniforms.”

Robert Browne pictured leaving Liverpool Crown Court in Derby Square, Liverpool.
(Image: Liverpool Echo)

Browne admitted possessing 1,468 illegal photographs of children, plus 80 extreme porn images, showing people having sex with animals.

He accepted downloading 38 Category A – the most serious category – plus 44 Category B and 1,386 Category C indecent images.

Mr Duncan said: “As regards the school uniform and clothing recovered from his arrest, he said that he paid prostitutes to dress up in certain articles of clothing.

“This was so he could take part in sexual activities, thus it appears, acting out his fantasies.”

Mr Duncan said police were unaware of any complaints regarding inappropriate behaviour by Browne towards pupils at his past schools.

On the day of sentencing in August 2017, the school said that Mr Browne had only worked for the school for six weeks between September and October 2016.

Browne was spared jail and was ordered to sign on the Sex Offenders Register.

He was given 12 months in jail, suspended for two years, and a 60-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement.

He was ordered to comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years.

Colin Watts

Colin Watts
Colin Watts


Colin Watts was caught with sick child abuse images depicting child rape.

Watts, a former primary school teacher, said he downloaded the images, some of which depicted child rape, because he enjoyed the “taboo” surrounding them.

In September 2016, Watts, who was 37 at the time of the trial, was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to downloading 48 images of children.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the images were classed as a mix of Category A – the most serious category according to sentencing guidelines – and Category B.

The court heard Watts, who had no previous convictions, admitted the offences in his police interview.

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Judge Norman Wright, passing sentence, said he accepted there was no evidence Watts had ever sexually abused children “in the flesh”.

He accused Watts of “feeding the market” for child pornography, but said he believed suspending the prison sentence would allow the Probation Service to help the defendant to stay out of trouble.

Watts, who was spared jail, was ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for seven years.

He was also given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, severely restricting his access to the internet and preventing him from unsupervised access to children.

Michael Smith

Former head of science at St Anselms College, Michael Smith, 53, of Grosvenor Road, Claughton was jailed for 12 months

Michael Smith used a hidden camera to spy on a teenage girl in the shower.

Smith was the respected head of science at St Anselm’s College, a grammar school for boys in Wirral.

But the 53-year-old secretly deployed two cameras to film his victim washing and being intimate with her boyfriend.

In February 2016, Liverpool Crown Court heard the girl discovered the first camera, which contained footage of her showering the previous year.

Neville Biddle, prosecuting, said she confronted Smith, who made a “spurious excuse”, and persuaded his embarrassed victim not to make a complaint.

However, the girl then found another hidden camera – this time in the shape of a pen – which Smith used to film her and her boyfriend.

When challenged again the pervert fled to North Wales, claiming that he intended to commit suicide.

Liverpool Crown Court
(Image: Liverpool Echo)

Smith, of Grosvenor Road, Claughton, who was 53 at the time of the trial, suggested there had been a mistake when he was arrested by police.

Officers recovered his computer and recording equipment including 22 videos.

Hours of footage included one Category B – the second most serious category – and 21 Category C indecent clips.

Smith admitted two counts of voyeurism and two counts of making indecent videos of children.

He was jailed for 12 months.

He was ordered to sign on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years and to comply with a 10 year Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

Michael Cowen

Michael Cowen, of The Paddock, Formby, jailed for 12 years for sexual assault of a child under 13, and other sex offences

Former teacher Michael Cowen asked a seven-year-old girl if we she wanted to play a game and then sexually abused her.

In March 2017, Cowen, of The Paddock, Formby, pleaded not guilty to sexual assault by penetration, sexual assault and possession of an indecent image believed to be of the little girl – but was convicted after a trial.

He was cleared of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

The court heard how Cowen, who was 38 at the time of the trial, asked if the girl wanted to play a game and then went on to sexually abuse her.

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The girl told her mum, who reported the matter to police.

In a victim impact statement, the girl’s mum said she had been called in to school to discuss conversations her daughter had been having with her friends.

She added: “I worry about what she has been exposed to at such a young age.”

Cowen was jailed for 12 years and handed an indefinite sexual harm prevention order.

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