A retired teacher, jailed for taking advantage of a pupil who confided in him that she had been abused, will be allowed unsupervised contact with children on release.
Anthony James O’Neill, 69, began a campaign of sexual offending against the 11-year-old after she went to him in the 1980s to complain of being abused.
The English teacher from Winsford was convicted of two indecent assaults and indecency with a child and was jailed for four years at Chester Crown Court in May.
He was also handed a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO), banning him from contact with children unless their parents know of his crimes.
But on Friday (December 16), after an appeal by his lawyers, three senior judges in London overturned the “unnecessary” order.
Mr Justice Nicol said O’Neill’s crimes had happened many years ago and there was insufficient evidence he would be a danger to children in the future.
“It is only if there is a real risk of future harm that an order could be necessary to prevent it,” said the appeal judge.
The court heard O’Neill, of Carmarthen Close, Winsford, had been working at a school in the 1980s when he met the girl.
She had been abused in the past by a family friend and a family member and had a difficult relationship with her mother.
At school, O’Neill paid special attention towards her and so it was he who she decided to confide in.
But when she did, he used the opportunity as a chance to abuse her, touching her inappropriately on the pretext of gaining information about the abuse.
“She realised then that he was not going to help,” said the judge, sitting with Lord Justice Hamblen and Judge Mark Lucraft QC.
“On numerous occasions, he would call her out of class or find opportunities to get her on her own to sexually abuse her.”
The abuse stopped when he left the school, but it was only in 2014 that he was finally arrested and charged.
Having jailed him for four years, Recorder Paul O’Brien said he thought a ban on O’Neil having unsupervised contact with children was necessary.
But his lawyers successfully argued that there was no need for such a ban.
Mr Justice Nicol said: “The offending was serious and he has realistically not challenged the prison sentence.
“However, a SHPO can only be made if the court is satisfied it is necessary for the purpose of protecting the public or any particular members of the public.
“His offending, serious as it was, happened over 30 years ago and he hasn’t been convicted of any offence subsequently.
“In those circumstances, it wasn’t possible for the recorder to be satisfied that the condition of necessity was satisfied. Accordingly, we will quash the SHPO.”