Teacher struck off after writing poison pen letters to schoolgirl

James McLeary wore gloves when writing the letters to the schoolgirl

A TEACHER who conducted a terrifying hate campaign against a schoolgirl and her family has been struck off.

James McLeary admitting sending vile letters to 16-year-old Nicole Naughton and hacking into her Facebook account.

He even wore gloves to write his poison pen letters so he wouldn’t leave forensic evidence on them.

McLeary told police he targeted her in a “revenge” plot following a feud with her family.

McLeary, who is believed to be in his mid-50s, was put on probation and the sex offenders’ register when he appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court last year.

McLeary worked as a supply teacher at South Lanarkshire Council primary schools.

At the court hearing last year depute fiscal Angela Gray told Hamilton Sheriff Court: “He said he wanted revenge, claiming the family had treated him like ‘a piece of scum’, and he was playing with the complainer’s mind.”

The court heard he had written to the teenager claiming that she was “no innocent wee girl” and sent copies of messages which had appeared on her Facebook page after he had gained access to it.

McLeary admitted sending two packages of obscene material to her horrified mum in September and October last  year.

He also admitted breaching the peace by following the Hamilton Grammar pupil in his car in August.

After the court hearing last year Nicole’s parents Trudie and Steven feared their daughter could face more anguish because McLeary is living with his mother — next door to Nicole’s gran.

Trudie was reported as saying said: “This guy terrorised my family and our teenage daughter, yet he’s allowed to walk free. My daughter’s been left a nervous, shaky shadow of the bubbly, happy teenager that she should be.”

Nicole waived her right to anonymity.

At today’s hearing Frieda Fraser, convenor of the disciplinary sub-committee, said: “His name requires to be removed from the register in order to protect members of the public and young persons. Public confidence in teachers and the teaching profession would be undermined if the respondent was not removed from the register given the seriousness of the charges.”

Earlier, Emma Gilpin, presenting solicitor for the GTCS said that McLeary – who did not turn up and was not represented – had breached the code of conduct and professionalism required to be a teacher.

She said that the code “provides that as a registered teacher that you should avoid situations both within and outwith the classroom that could be a breach of the criminal law.”

She also said that the code says a teacher should be a “role model to pupils” and promote “honesty and integrity”.

She said: “A teacher must not engage in a criminal activity of any kind.”

She added: “It’s clear, in my submission, that the respondent has failed to reach the standards required of a registered teacher.”

Miss Gilpin explained that McLeary had been convicted of breach of the peace in 1982 and 1986.

This was dealt with by the GTCS in 1997 when he applied to be put on the teaching register and it was decided that he should be allowed to be a teacher.

But he was convicted again of breach of the peace in 1999.

Miss Gilpin added: “Here the GTCS investigating committee decided not to take further action but it decided that there would be no further chances.”

She said that it was decided if he was to be convicted again the consequences would be “grave”.

McLeary is the third teacher to be struck off in a week in Scotland following abuse of young female pupils in their care.

Art teacher, 58-year-old Christopher Cunningham was removed from the register after having sex with two pupils in a tent, at the beach and his mother’s home.

Cunningham already served a 12-month jail term for his “gross” breach of trust, committed while he was a teacher at West Calder High School in West Lothian.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard last August that the married father-of-two started having sex with the girls after they turned 16.

In May 2008, he had sex with one of the girls in front of the other in a tent in the “Wild Woods” of Camilty Forest, 12 miles from Edinburgh.

Cunningham, who admitted the offences, had sex with both girls on a second camping trip and then at a beach and at his mother’s home.

And 37-year-old Richard Cantwell was struck off  after using a social networking site to try to persuade a female pupil to visit his home.

The history and modern studies teacher even made an online offer to pay for a taxi to ferry the girl to the house.

Cantwell, who taught history and modern studies at a Glasgow school, asked the girl to “come over” despite having been warned off making contact with students through social networking sites by school bosses.

The incident happened on the afternoon of March 22, 2009 when Cantwell, a chronic alcoholic whose marriage had broken down, used Messenger Plus – or MSN – to communicate with the pupil.