'Must learn lessons' from headteacher abuse, Wales's children's commissioner says

It is important to "learn lessons" after a former headteacher was found guilty of sexually abusing four young girls, Wales's children's commission has said.

Neil Foden was jailed for 17 years on Monday after he was convicted of 19 charges in total.

The 66-year-old, of Old Colwyn, was found guilty in May after a three-week trial at Mold Crown Court.

The children's commissioner for Wales, Rocio Cifuentes, has said she is "keeping all available options open" to make sure lessons are learned.

"We must not allow these harrowing experiences to pass without learning lessons to better safeguard children in the future," she said in a statement to Sky News.

"My immediate concerns as Children's Commissioner are making sure that the next steps being taken by the safeguarding board are as strong and thorough as possible.

"I want to be assured that the scope of the Child Practice Review's remit is sufficient to enable us to identify these lessons."

'Let down'

Gwynedd Council said Foden's victims had been "let down" and the recommendations of the North Wales Safeguarding Board would be implemented.

At his sentencing hearing, Judge Rowlands described Foden as "a man looked up to by many in the education system" who had "managed to hide a dreadful secret".

He said Foden took advantage of young girls "repeatedly" in order to satisfy his "depraved, sexual needs".

"You were in a position of trust as regards the children who were in your care," he added.

"It is clear that you have no remorse, you've not shown an ounce of contrition for what you did and you have no insight into the undoubted very serious harm that you've caused both to the individual victims and their families."

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Judge Rowlands said Foden was "a forceful, bullying presence" in his school, Ysgol Friars, of which he became headteacher in 1997.

The union rep who was also drafted in to "oversee a second school" was, the Judge said, a man who "people were afraid of crossing".

He was arrested on 6 September last year at his workplace.