Deputy headteacher admits encouraging child's rape

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The Independent Online

A deputy headteacher today admitted encouraging another man to rape a three-year-old girl.

Patrick Lennon, 59, who taught at the all-girls Greenbank High School in Southport, Merseyside, asked John Hawley, 38, to sexually abuse the youngster.

Lennon pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to a string of sexual offences including two counts of encouraging or assisting Hawley to commit the attack.

He was suspended last September from his post at the school where he had worked since the 1970s.

His arrest by Merseyside Police and subsequent trawl through his computer led to colleagues in Greater Manchester detaining Hawley and another man, Philip Skitt, in March this year.

It emerged that Skitt, of Wigan, and Lennon had been in online contact with Hawley, of Bolton, in which they asked him to commit a sexual act on a child.

Hawley went on to tell detectives that on more than one occasion Skitt even watched the abuse on a webcam, police said.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said: "The investigation, which involved officers from Public Protection Investigation Units in Bolton and Wigan and GMP's Sexual Crime Unit uncovered communication between the pair and a third man (Lennon) from Merseyside.

"One of the first items of communication, dated November 16 2008, related to Skitt and another man asking Hawley to commit a sexual act on a child.

"Skitt and Hawley have known each other for between six and seven years. While most of the communication was over the internet, they have met in person on several occasions.

"During interview, Hawley admitted raping and sexually abusing a child under 13 on a number of occasions over two years and told police that on at least one occasion, Skitt and another man were watching on a webcam and encouraging the abuse. Images of him raping a child and other extreme pornography were found in his possession."

Lennon, of Warwick Avenue, Crosby, pleaded guilty to two offences of encouraging or assisting Hawley to rape a three-year-old girl, believing it would be committed on November 16 2008.

He also admitted six counts of possessing extreme pornography and 15 counts of making indecent photographs of children.

Lennon denied two counts of incitement to rape a child, another of incitement to sexually assault a child and three counts of encouraging or assisting an offence, believing it would be committed.

Hawley, 38, of Boundary Street, Halliwell, admitted three counts of raping a child under 13, three counts of sexual assault by penetration of a child under 13, engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child and making indecent images of a child.

Skitt, 54, of Orrell Road, admitted to two counts of encouraging or assisting sexual abuse on the same day as Lennon. He also pleaded guilty to voyeurism and making indecent images of children.

He denied two counts of incitement to rape and another of sexual assault, along with three counts of encouraging and assisting an offence.

The court heard that in principle all the pleas were acceptable to the Crown Prosecution Service.

All three will be sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court on September 3.

A spokesman for Sefton Council said: "This individual was suspended from his post in September 2009 as soon as these allegations came to light. He has not returned to the school since and has now resigned from his post.

"We understand that the charges related to his personal computer in his private life, and no allegations were made in connection with the school."