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Former headteacher jailed for 17 years for sexual abuse of girls

01 Jul 2024 6 minute read
Neil Foden, a former National Union of Teachers official in Wales, arriving at Mold Crown Court. Photo Peter Byrne/PA Wire

A former high school headteacher who had a “sexual obsession” with young girls has been jailed for 17 years.

Neil Foden, 66, who worked at a school in north Wales, was convicted following a trial in May of 19 offences involving the abuse of four girls over a four-year period.

Sentencing him at Mold Crown Court on Monday, Judge Rhys Rowlands said: “Your behaviour was born out of your arrogant sense of your self-worth, such that you believed no-one would stand up to you.”

He said Foden had been “determined” to satisfy his “perverted desires”, which included a urination fetish.


He described Foden as a “domineering” and “bombastic” character who was looked up to by many, but was a “man who managed to hide a dreadful secret, an appalling flaw in your character, that being your sexual obsession with young teenage girls”.

The judge said: “It is clear that you have no remorse. You have not shown an ounce of contrition for what you did and you have no insight into the undoubted very serious harm you have caused both to individual victims and to their families.”

Two of his victims appeared in court to read statements detailing the impact of the abuse on them.

One said: “He exploited both my body and mind and I feel tired and constantly sick as a result.”

Another victim said: “I feel that when he made me go to court to give my evidence he wanted to hurt me for reporting him and, instead of justice, he wanted revenge.”

In a statement which was read to the court, another of the girls abused by Foden said: “I believed him when he said he loved me and I was the only one he wanted.”

She added: “What Mr Foden has done is evil. It’s hit me hard and I’ll never forgive him.”

Foden shook his head at some points as victim statements were read but showed no emotion as he was sentenced.

He was also ordered to pay £4,000 towards prosecution costs.


During his trial, the court was shown a video of the defendant holding the hand of one of the girls, child A, as she sat in the back of his car, while he was in the driver’s seat.

Foden, who was previously an executive member for the National Education Union, was arrested after child A showed an adult a photo of them together and screenshots of messages about oral sex.

The court heard he would pick her up in his car and drive them to secluded areas.

Another complainant, child E, told police she referred to Foden as Mr P, for perfect, while he called her “his little sex toy”.

She also described meeting the defendant in his BMW car, which had personalised number plates, and driving to remote lay-bys and country lanes “for him to have a play with me”.

After Foden was arrested, police later found a pair of purple and black lace handcuffs in the boot of his car which had DNA present matching Foden and the youngster.

Foden was convicted of pinching the thigh of child B and putting his hand under her clothing and of placing his hands at the top of child C’s inner thighs.

Duncan Bould, defending, said Foden had contributed in a positive way to the lives of others during his career as a teacher and a trades union representative.

He said: “All of those achievements are now lost to him because of his own behaviour, as is his reputation.”

Gwynedd Council

The court heard concerns about Foden were raised with Gwynedd Council at an earlier stage but no investigation was carried out.

Following his convictions, a spokeswoman for the council said an independent review would take place.

Foden, of Old Colwyn, North Wales, was convicted of 12 counts of sexual activity with a child, two counts of sexual activity with a child in a position of trust, and one count each of causing or inciting child sexual activity, attempting to arrange the commission of a child sex offence, sexual communication with a child, possession of indecent photographs of a child and sexual assault of a child.

He was cleared of one count of sexual activity with a child, where he was alleged to have touched the bottom of child D.

Children’s welfare

In a joint statement, Plaid Cymru politicians Siân Gwenllian MS, Mabon ap Gwynfor MS and Liz Saville Roberts called for a comprehensive and independent Statutory Inquiry with a focus on prioritising children’s welfare without compromise.

They said:  “Following the sentencing of the former headteacher of Ysgol Friars to 17 years in prison for multiple child abuse offences, we call for a statutory inquiry into how Neil Foden was in a position to commit such vile crimes against vulnerable pupils in his care.’

“Children and their families in north west Wales have suffered appalling crimes. They remain in our thoughts and our priority must be to ensure that no child suffers in this way ever again.

“Ysgol Friars provides secondary education for families living in the immediate Bangor catchment area and for many children living further afield in Gwynedd, Ynys Môn and Conwy.

“All these families must have confidence in the independence and comprehensiveness of the inquiry and its terms of reference which needs to uncover the full extent of the failings and ensure that appropriate measures are put in place without delay to prevent such occurrences in the future.

“Whilst acknowledging that the North Wales Safeguarding Board is undertaking a child practice review, we believe that a statutory inquiry is necessary if we are to learn all the lessons required to prevent such abhorrent crimes in the future.

“Unlike a statutory inquiry, the Safeguarding Board has no power to compel witnesses to give evidence, neither is their evidence given under oath. The Ysgol Friars inquiry must be able to collect evidence in full. For the sake of the children and the families involved and for the sake of all children, a statutory inquiry is essential.”

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