A brave teenager who received ‘flirty’ messages from the ‘strictest head teacher’ in the UK has revealed how his inappropriate Instagram conversations ‘ruined her life’ and left her with nightmares.
Cat Hughes reported receiving dozens of messages from £35,000-a-year Ruthin School Principal Toby Belfield.
Married north Wales teacher Mr Belfield struck up a conversation with Cat in 2018 and inundated her with messages for nine months.
He would send the 16-year-old messages in the early hours of the morning, telling her she was ‘cute’ and how ‘flirting is fine’ before he complimented her on how she looked in her blazer.
Married north Wales teacher Toby Belfield (pictured above) struck up a conversation with Cat in 2018 and inundated her with messages for nine months
Messages Mr Belfield sent are pictured above where he claims he prefers petite women
Speaking to North Wales Live Cat said her teacher would also talk about breasts, virginity and sexuality, telling her he liked women ‘small and petite’.
‘A lot of it was about me being pretty in my blazer. Two days after my 16th birthday, the messages started getting more flirty.
‘He started conversations about relationships and boyfriends saying things like ‘should I be jealous’ and how I would ‘make a terrible girlfriend’.’
Cat’s plight led to safeguarding investigations at the school.
Cat revealed that Mr Belfield (pictured) had even told her that 99 per cent of schools would sack a Principal for messaging students on chat apps
Toby Belfield is pictured on the left. There is no suggestion that the student pictured alongside him was the recipient of any messages
Her revelation comes after another pupil shared messaged which stated Mr Belfield had told her she was ‘naughty and that she looked ‘stunning in a dress’.
North Wales News originally broke the story after an investigation was launched into the teacher. But no recommendations were made and neither was a criminal investigation.
Regulators then carried out unannounced investigations at the school, which revealed major safeguarding issues at the institution.
It revealed that the school had an ‘autocratic and controlling management system in place’.
Cat revealed that Mr Belfield had even told her that 99 per cent of schools would sack a Principal for messaging students on chat apps.
Belfield complimented a student’s red dress, said he would visit pupils at University, and asked about their sex lives Head teacher texts, the messages above are examples of what he had sent to other pupils
She said the messages from him became so frequent that it had a serious impact on her mental health.
Cat moved to the school in Year 8 when she was awarded a bursary. She said she hated it there at first but would spend more and more time there due to family issues.
It was when she reached year 10 that Mr Belfield started to message her.
She had heard how he would message other girls and thought that he was taking an interest in her, he would ask about holidays and her plans for the future.
But when Cat started struggling with personal problems he continued to message her, which she said made her feel ‘valued’ and that she ‘did matter’.
As the messages went on Cat said she knew there were some topics that he shouldn’t have addressed, but she said she just gave him the benefit of the doubt.
The messages carried on and Cat felt as though she had to reply in order for her to keep her place at the school.
In 2018 Mr Belfield awarded Cat with weekly boarding at the school, but she was admitted to hospital shortly afterwards.
The messages from the professor continued, becoming more personal, with one stating that Mr Belfield would have been ‘heartbroken’ if anything had happened to Cat.
‘At the time I just thought maybe he is a bit more invested in me than other students, which was a bit weird but at the same time, I didn’t have that from anyone else.
‘When I went home during the holidays, I was getting more messages at 3am, 5am and because I needed my place, I felt like I had to reply’.
He also told her how he would message other girls.
When Mr Belfield was traveling she noticed that the messages would slow, but she says it was always him who instigated the conversation.
She said she felt more relaxed at school when he was away and as her mental health deteriorated she felt his attitude changed towards her.
Cat made the decision to deactivate her Instagram account to put a stop to the messages.
But he then went on to ask for her number in case he needed to contact her. She didn’t want him to have it so she reactivated the account.
She added: ‘The messages kept coming. A lot of it was about me being pretty in my blazer. Two days after my 16th birthday, the messages started getting more flirty.
‘He also asked me if I had an eating disorder because I was skinny and I looked good. I did show the messages to people in school but I felt like people were too scared to do anything about it.’
Cat said she had a break down when the disciplinary hearing happened. She felt Mr Belfield had control over her.
The experience has made her want to become a mental health worker and she now says her energy is going into helping others and making sure something is done.
‘I’ve had nightmares about Mr Belfield. This whole thing has ruined my life.’