Police appalled by Shaw case

JAMES GREENLAND
Last updated 13:00 16/01/2014
Lawrence Shaw
GUILTY: Lawrence Shaw was sentenced to 2 years, 3 months in prison for indecently assaulting five girls.

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Nelson police are appalled by former Nelson teacher Lawrence Shaw's sexual offending against children and are appealing for anyone still holding concerns about him to come forward.

Shaw was jailed yesterday for two years and three months, having been found guilty of indecently assaulting five girls aged between 6 and 12.

Detective Constable Steve Arnold said Shaw had taught at a number of schools in Nelson, Christchurch and Marlborough during the past 20 years, "where he was in a position of responsibility over other people's young children".

"He operated in an environment where he had easy access to young children whose parents had every right to expect he would act in a trustworthy manner," Mr Arnold said.

Judge Tony Zohrab said Shaw's profession as a teacher could not be considered an aggravating factor at sentencing.

However, he said Shaw's professional experience with children should have given him insight into the impact sexual abuse can have on developing minds.

He said Shaw had robbed the young victims of the joys of innocence and youth, and it was possible that would affect them their entire lives.

"As a school teacher you should appreciate that even more," Judge Zohrab said.

Shaw's licence to teach expired in December 2012. Teachers Council director Peter Lind said his registration had been under review by a disciplinary tribunal since last month. Shaw would likely be banned from practice once that formal process is concluded.

He said the Teachers Council had no record of complaints about Shaw before the current investigation.

At the sentencing, defence lawyer Tony Bamford said his client had deliberately sought a new career away from teaching.

Last month Shaw graduated from the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology with a level 5 diploma in contemporary music.

Mr Arnold praised the children and their extended families for making statements that led to Shaw's conviction.

"This has been a harrowing experience for these families and I have the utmost respect for the courage they have shown throughout this trial," he said.

The complainants were not Shaw's students, and while this particular investigation was complete police were still keen to hear from anyone else who has concerns about Shaw, Mr Arnold said.

Anyone with information was welcome to call him directly on 03 970 2163.

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- The Nelson Mail

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