IT was with a mixture of revulsion, sorrow and dismay that I read about Nigel Leat’s catalogue of crimes.
He is the 51-year-old North Somerset primary school teacher who subjected numerous of his pupils to the most appalling sexual abuses.
The 36 offences to which he pleaded guilty at Crown Court the other day included the molestation of children as young as six and attempted rape.
In further vile acts of self-gratification, he also filmed some of his attacks which sometimes took place in front of other pupils.
One of the many shocking aspects of Leat’s behaviour is that his treacherous reign of terror went on for at least five years before he was finally caught (and God knows how many other victims there have been over the years).
The psychological damage he must have inflicted on some of his victims is incalculable.
And this paedophile has left further wreckage in his wake.
We may currently be moving out of so tightly regulated a society-cum-nanny state (although all the checks and balances of recent years did nothing to protect these young victims), but Leat is every male teacher and would-be male teacher’s worst nightmare.
For years primary schools have been crying out for more male staff.
Some men may have avoided primary education because it is not regarded as such a manly profession these days (partly because there are so many female teachers - Catch 22).
But I also know of chaps who have given the profession a wide berth because there has been such a fear of their being treated as potential child sex offenders.
Much has been attempted to break this misconception in recent years, with a modicum of success.
But Leat’s gross breaches of trust can only set the cause back a country mile.