Paedophile teacher to face public parole hearing after abuse of five girls in Somerset

Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

A primary school teacher who filmed himself sexually abusing his pupils will face another parole hearing, which will be held in public.

Described as a “predatory paedophile”, Nigel Leat captured on camera the attacks he carried out on five young girls over the course of five years at Hillside First School in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

Leat, now aged 63 is also known by the surname Russell. He was jailed indefinitely in 2011 after admitting 36 offences including attempted rape of a child and sexual assault.

He was first released from prison in December 2020 having been found “suitable for release” but was recalled to prison in March 2021 for breaching his licence conditions.

According to Parole Board documents he was “accessing concerning material on the internet linked to his continuing sexual interest in children”.

The Parole Board said: “Following his return to custody, various items of concern were found in his cell. On 7 February 2022 a panel of the Parole Board found that Mr Leat’s recall to custody was appropriate.”

“That panel did not direct his release or recommend Mr Leat for open conditions.”

Leat’s case was again referred to the Parole Board in January last year and a fresh hearing has been ordered, which has been listed for 18 March.

He objected to the hearing being held in public as it “could be detrimental to his rehabilitation” and “may result in increased risk to him” and expose his current identity.

“The stress of a public hearing may impact on Mr Leat’s health. Mr Leat would be questioned on private matters and could not be as open in a public forum,” parole poard documents state.

“Mr Leat is remorseful and a public hearing could impact on his victims.”

Caroline Corby, chair of the parole board, rejected Leat’s objections and said that in the “interests of justice” the “high bar” threshold had been met for a public hearing.

“Mr Leat was in a position of trust as a teacher and his offending was extensive. It is in the interests of justice that the public see how the board assesses risks in a case such as this,” she said.

“The Parole Board has not yet held a public hearing for a prisoner convicted of child sexual offences. There is increased scrutiny regarding the safety of women and girls, which is relevant to the issues in this case.

“Mr Leat was recalled back to custody for concerning behaviour four months after being released."

Leat identified “star pupils” and shower them with gifts before abusing them in one-to-one reading sessions at the school.

When he was arrested by police, officers found more than 30,000 indecent photographs and more than 700 movies in his possession.