Larry Williams: Paedophile should not have been able to work at schools

Listen to Larry Williams on Newstalk ZB from 4pm to 7pm. Today he looks at the sentencing of Robert Burrett.
Image / iStock
Image / iStock

Today a former Christchurch school caretaker has been sentenced to almost 20 years in jail for 21 counts of sexual abuse against school girls.

Sixty-five-year-old Robert Burrett has been sentenced to 19-and-a-half-years in jail at the High Court in Christchurch with a minimum non parole period of ten years. The charges include rape, sodomy, forced oral sex, indecent assault, videoing the offending and watching pornography. His twelve victims were aged between five and twelve years old.

Some were abused in his caretaker's shed on a school property that was equipped with curtains and a lock. Some girls were disabled or in a wheelchair and were abused when he drove them to or from school.

This man should never be released from prison. His offending was the most sickening imaginable.

What's astounding is that Burrett was able to remain in the teaching profession when he had a history of deviant behaviour since the early 1990s.

He was forced out of two previous schools for alcohol abuse, incompetence and inappropriate behaviour with students.

Neither dismissal was ever officially recorded against his name, so he went onto other schools without them having any knowledge of his past. He was a ticking time bomb.

There were red flags all over the place like :

* Caught teaching drunk.
* One former student alleging he masturbated in classrooms and watched girls getting changed into swimming togs with an erection.
* Allegations of being drunk, unkempt and inept.
* Complaints of incompetency, inappropriate comments and behaviour.

It seems in at least one case of dismissal it is alleged the union was called in and a deal was done, which included a confidential payout.

Anyone with half a brain would've seen to it that Burrett was struck off the teachers register and reported to police. And that's the thing in this case - principals, teachers, and Boards of Trustees, are meant to be intelligent people, so it's inconceivable that they would do deals to keep his behaviour secret.

The consequence of inaction played out in court today -12 girls, some disabled, sexually molested by a paedophile. This scandal needs to be investigated.

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