Neil Foden: The 'arrogant' headteacher who sexually preyed on teenage girls

  • ITV Cymru Wales' Joanne Gallacher reports.

He posed as a decent and caring head teacher. In reality, Neil Foden was a child abuser, preying on teenage girls.

Foden started teaching in 1979, and now more than four decades later his reputation is in tatters as he awaits a prison sentence, found guilty of serious sexual crimes against teenagers.

For four years he sexually abused four girls, urging them to keep quiet about what he was doing, even telling one she "must take it to the grave and not tell anyone".

For more than three weeks, the former Gywnedd headteacher sat inside court room number one of Mold Crown Court and listened to the allegations five girls had made against him. He was found guilty of 19 charges, including 12 of sexual activity with a child relating to four girls. He was found not guilty of the same charge in relation to a fifth girl.

He was a member of the community in north-west Wales who was held in high regard by many, but he is now facing a lengthy custodial sentence for his crimes.

At times he could be seen in the dock, sat metres away from the press bench, putting on reading glasses as he forensically examined the evidence against him.

When he took to the stand to defend himself in week three, he spoke confidently and tried to tear apart the evidence of the teens line-by-line.

He claimed he was "just somebody wanting to help". In truth, he had preyed on the girls and sexually abused them.

Neil Foden is facing a lengthy custodial sentence. Credit: North Wales Police

When asked if he'd had sex with one of the girls, he said a medical condition meant he "couldn't have done, even if I had wanted to". He added: "There is very little point in arranging a sexual liaison I couldn't fulfil".

Today, the seven women and five men of the jury ruled that they did not believe him.

Judge Rhys Rowlands told the defendant “some of the explanations for your behaviour towards the victims proffered by you beggared belief at times”.

He said he had shown himself to be “arrogant” with a “controlling personality” and an “individual used to getting his own way”.

He added: “This defendant was arrogant and couldn’t care less. He was Neil Foden, a man in his view who could do no wrong."

Foden, 66, of Old Colwyn, was arrested in September last year when plain-clothed officers went to his place of work.

On that autumn day, just 45 minutes before his arrest he deleted 17 images sent to him by one of the victims. There were photographs and videos, some of which were of a sexual nature. They had been stored in a secret folder protected by a password.

He was taken to Caernarfon police station for questioning - answering "no comment" to everything put to him.

Neil Foden was found guilty of 19 offences. Credit: Helen Tipper

His arrest came after a complaint from a teenager - known as Child A.

Foden had been meeting her and sending sexually explicit text messages - his mobile number was stored under the name "Nick Jones". A photo of them in an embrace, taken inside his car was also discovered.

The teenager believed she had been in a relationship with a man old enough to be her grandfather for six months. She used the term "relationship" herself, when describing what had been going on. However, one witness called it out as "grooming at best".

Messages were sent to the child, including some late at night. One exchange related to oral sex. Foden told her how the act was done but said it wasn't something she needed to do.

He would also kiss and hug the girl and put his hand inside her underwear. Despite her protests, he continued.

Foden would take Child A on what he called "road trips". He would look on Google Maps to see where he could take her in his car. Once there he kissed her breasts, her stomach and her legs. Her phone was always switched off so nobody could reach her.

This was a pattern of behaviour used on other girls including a young woman known as Child E. She also believed she was in a relationship with Foden. She said she trusted him. She felt safe with him.

This was a sexual relationship which saw the pair travelling back and forth to Liverpool and stopping in country lanes around the village of Rhuallt in Denbighshire for sex in a lay-by.

Foden smuggled her into hotels to stay overnight, they shared a room, a bed and had sexual intercourse. Bank transactions placed the pair in the same cities, in the same hotels and on the same dates.

She bought him gifts - even handing over hundreds of pounds in cash to pay towards his new bathroom.

These teenagers over a four-year period were groomed by a man they felt they could trust.

They were fearful for their futures, with one of the girls searching on the internet numerous phrases relating to sexual abuse , including "I think I'm being sexually abused, what do I do?" and "how to tell your parents you were groomed".

Neil Foden entering Mold Crown Court Credit: PA Images

Foden was known as an autocratic headteacher who had turned troubled schools around. He was a teaching union leader and a local spokesman on educational issues.

When concerns around him seeing teenagers alone were raised by those who knew him - it was because they feared he would be the victim of a false allegation - but those allegations were not false.

Gwynedd Council did not investigate the matter when raised in 2019 and no records of that meeting were kept. The former director of education Garem Jackson has since resigned from his post.

Post-verdict, the local authority has since announced an independent review will take place to establish "what lessons can be learnt".

A council statement said: “We are appalled by the nature of the crimes committed and commend and admire the remarkable courage and resilience the victims and their families have displayed throughout the process. We are grateful to them and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

“Now that the criminal process has concluded, the task of reviewing work practices and establishing what lessons can be learnt will begin. Due to the serious nature of the case, arrangements are being made to carry out an independent review in accordance with national Child Practice Review guidelines. The exact form of the review is currently being determined.

“Until all relevant investigations and reviews have been completed, it would not be appropriate to comment further.”