Published: 00:00, 19 March 2015
| Updated: 10:58, 19 March 2015
A former school support worker who was jailed after exchanging explicit text messages with a teenage girl has been cleared to work with children again.
Shaun Alexander Burford was caged for six months in 2009 when he was employed at Christ Church School, now The John Wallis Academy, after sending a video of himself having a threesome to a 13-year-old girl and encouraging her to text him a topless photo of herself.
Burford, now 46, was made to sign the sex offenders’ register and was also hit with a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO) and an order disqualifying him from working with children or vulnerable adults.
However, this week, the former soldier and father appeared at London’s Appeal Court where top judges overturned the ban after deciding Burford was no longer a threat.
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC said Burford had been depressed and drinking heavily at the time and had later taken steps to distance himself from the teenager.
He said Burford, of Coombe Valley Road, Dover, was a “good father” and a respected figure and he had collected numerous references testifying to his good character.
Overturning the ban, Judge Bourne-Arton, sitting with Lord Justice Pitchford and Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, said there was “no material” indicating Burford was likely to commit further sex crimes against children.
Burford said he had “succumbed to temptation” when in the grip of a “personal crisis”, the judge said.
He added: “Are we satisfied that he will commit further offences against children? There is no material before us to allow us to come to such a conclusion. The disqualification order will be quashed.”
Burford was working in a pastoral role at the school when he received a text message from a girl on Christmas Eve 2007 telling him: “Have a great Christmas.”
The conversation became intimate and they both admitted being bisexual before the video and photo were exchanged.
At Maidstone Crown Court in June 2009 Burford admitted causing a child to watch a sexual act and to engage in sexual activity.
Kent County Council, on behalf of Christ Church School, confirmed a police Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check, the forerunner to today’s Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), was carried out into Burford’s background when he joined the school.
Burford contacted Kent Online after the court hearing to stress he did not wish to work with children again.
He said he had wanted the ban overturned so if a minor, such as a work experience student or apprentice, ended up working near him he would not be breaking the law.
More by this authorSuz Elvey