Convicted pedophile schoolteacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes leaves Toowoomba Magistrates Court prior to his 2010 imprisonment.
Convicted pedophile schoolteacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes leaves Toowoomba Magistrates Court prior to his 2010 imprisonment.

Principal retains teaching job after pedophile inaction

A TOOWOOMBA Catholic primary school principal who rehired a pedophile teacher in 2008 will be allowed to continue teaching unless further evidence arises of misconduct.

Former teacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes pleaded guilty in 2010 to committing 44 sexual offences against 13 girls while teaching Year 4 students at a Toowoomba school in 2007 and 2008.

The charges included 33 counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16 and 10 counts of rape.

Byrnes was sentenced to 10 years' prison.

The Queensland Civil and Administration Tribunal case against his principal at the time, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the children, has found he failed to take appropriate steps to protect children after allegations of abuse were made.

Fourteen of the 44 sexual offences committed by Byrnes took place after the principal was notified by a parent of his conduct.

The Tribunal also found the principal had rehired the pedophile, then 58, in a casual teaching role after Byrnes retired in July 2008.

"In this case, the students were of tender ages being Year 4 students," the tribunal found.

"It is reasonable to infer that the students... may likely suffer the consequences for many years to come, or for the rest of their lives."

The principal received a complaint about Byrnes inappropriately touching a girl from her parent in September, 2007.

He reported it to his employer, wrote to Byrnes and made subsequent investigations.

"Mr Byrnes admitted some things including placing girls on his lap in class, but denied the more serious allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct," the tribunal found.

"(The principal) failed to take adequate action after receiving the complaint until November 14, 2008, including failing to take protective measures as a result of admitted behaviours and in light of the nature of the allegations.

"Supervision and monitoring of Mr Byrnes was inadequate and Mr Byrnes was not monitored or removed as a Student Protection Contact."

The principal was suspended from teaching for two years. However, the Tribunal took into account his sacking in 2009 and the fact he had worked only in sporadic relief teaching roles until returning to full-time classroom work in 2013.

Consequently, the order was suspended for three years and will only take effect if further grounds for disciplinary action arise during that period.

He was also ordered to undertake 50 hours of community service within the next 12 months.

He will never be permitted to work as a principal again.

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