Teacher 'stole baby photos from Facebook to fool partner'
Published 23/09/2011 | 08:01
AN infant teacher duped a former boyfriend into believing she had given birth to their child by using baby photographs stolen from Facebook, a disciplinary hearing has heard.
Victoria Jones, 23, is accused of weaving "an elaborate web of deceit" to get revenge on Daniel Barberini for ending their 16-month relationship.
She allegedly embellished her tale by informing Mr Barberini, 26, that she had given birth to twins but that their son was born with Down’s syndrome and had died.
She taunted him further by claiming that she had taken their daughter to live in Australia.
Miss Jones, who worked at a primary school in Newport, Gwent, denies professional misconduct.
Her union representative told the General Teaching Council for Wales that she admitted taking the photographs but that her actions had taken place in her private life.
The hearing was told that Miss Jones dreamt up the hoax after seeing pictures of a former school friend’s daughter on Facebook, the social networking site.
The 82 photographs showed the girl, who was referred to during the hearing as Baby A, hours after she was born, celebrating her first birthday, enjoying Christmas and playing at home.
Miss Jones allegedly stole them and used them to fool Mr Barberini into believing the girl was his for 18 months.
She claimed that she had given birth to the twins in New York and had called them Keira and Harrison. She told him she had subsequently emigrated from Britain to Australia.
But the hearing was told that Miss Jones had no children and was still teaching in the nursery at Ringland Primary School in Newport.
Disciplinary committee officer Haydn Llewellyn said: "You took various photos of the baby from her mother's account on Facebook without the agreement of her parents.
"You provided them to your ex-partner and told him you were the baby's mother and he was the father.
"As a consequence, you compromised your professional status and credibility.
"You compromised your position of trust within the school and brought Ringland Primary School and the council into disrepute.
"These facts constitute unacceptable professional conduct, meaning conduct which falls short of a registered teacher."
The hoax only came to light when Mr Barberini proudly showed one of the baby pictures to a friend, who knew the child’s real mother.
Head teacher Lisa Bowden said she first became aware of the incident after Miss Jones, who taught children aged four and five, called the school to say she was unwell.
She told the panel: "I then had a call from the local authority child protection officer, he told me a member of staff was being investigated by Gwent Police.
"He said the case involved using photos from Facebook.”
She added: "We were approached by a large number of parents. They had great concerns that their children's pictures had been used and that the teacher would return.
"They said they had totally lost trust in that member of staff and in the school."
Presenting officer Gwenno Hughes-Marshall told the hearing that some parents had regarded her actions as a “silly mistake” while others threatened to remove their children from the school.
She added: "One student teacher didn't return as she didn't want to be associated with the school after Miss Jones' actions."
Miss Jones, who faces three charges of unacceptable professional conduct, did not appear at the hearing.
Colin Adkins, her NASUWT union representative, said: "Any right-minded person, as Victoria Jones does now, would consider her actions as wrong.
"But the acts were conducted in her private life."
A Gwent Police spokesman confirmed they had investigated the alleged misuse of photographs but found that no offence had been committed.
The hearing continues.