Suspected paedophile teacher stranded after return to UK is blocked
A teacher who moved his family 8,000 miles to the South Atlantic, after landing a job as deputy head at the Falklands Island school, has been charged with child sex offences. Paul Barton, 41, is currently on bail in Stanley awaiting trial and last month was refused permission to fly back to the UK to attend his father's funeral.
A former Captain in the Territorial Army, Mr Barton relocated to the Falklands in January 2016, with his wife, two children and three dogs after leaving his job as acting assistant principal at the De Warenne Academy in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.
He was appointed deputy headteacher at the Community School in Stanley and recently celebrated with the pupils as they enjoyed record GCSE results.
But he was suspended last month after being charged with possessing indecent images of children and attempting to engage a youngster in sexual activity.
His wife and two sons are understood to have now left the island and returned to the UK, but Mr Barton has been forced to hand over his passport and will have to remain on the island until the conclusion of the court case.
The offences relate to alleged activities in internet chatrooms and do not involve any children living in the Falklands. Mr Barton is accused of contacting a 12-year-old girl online and asked her to engage in sexual conversations and send indecent photographs of herself.
When she refused it is claimed he asked her to send image of girls that looked like her.
Police investigating the allegations seized his computers and allegedly found around 30 indecent images of children.
Mr Barton will claim he thought he was engaging in role play with other adults in chatrooms and had no recollection of looking at the indecent images.
In an online blog about their move to the South Atlantic, Mr Barton's wife described how they decided to make the move in order to spend more time with one another and were inspired by a trip to Iceland.
Writing in December 2015, she said: "On the train back from our family holiday in Iceland Paul spotted an opportunity in the paper to work in the Falkland islands and the journey was then spent playing the ‘what if’ game.
"The decision was made to make an application with a ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ attitude and to be truthful I don’t think that either of us thought that there would be a response.
"After a few weeks of waiting we thought that it wasn’t to be but then out of nowhere there was the offer of a skype interview followed closely by an offer of a job!"
They sold their three bedroom semi-detached home near Scunthorpe just days before they left for the Falkland Islands, making a £35,000 loss from when they bought it in 2008. One former neighbour said: "It was a very fast exit. He listed his house and was gone within weeks."
A spokesman for the De Warenne Academy where Mr Barton used to teach, said: “We understand that there is an investigation by the Falklands authorities into allegations against a former member of staff.
We will assist where appropriate.” Following his arrest Mr Barton was forced to hand over his passport to the RFIP, but last month applied for permission to return to the UK to attend his father's funeral on Humberside.
He was initially granted permission to travel but the prosecution successfully appealed the decision.
Under his current bail conditions Mr Barton is not allowed unsupervised contact with children and has been banned from entering the school or leisure centre on the island.
Following Mr Barton's arrest the Falkland Islands Government announced a review of safeguarding procedures at the school.