South East Wales

Newport Facebook baby hoax teacher banned for two years

Victoria Jones
Image caption Victoria Jones took 82 photographs of another woman's baby from Facebook

A teacher who stole baby pictures from Facebook to make her ex-boyfriend think they had a baby has been banned from working in the classroom for two years.

Victoria Jones, 23, kept up the pretence for two years, the General Teaching Council for Wales heard.

She was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct which she had denied.

The Newport teacher was cleared of compromising her position of trust and bringing the school into disrepute.

Ms Jones, who worked at Ringland Primary School's nursery, admitted taking 82 photographs of a baby girl from the social networking website, the council heard.

She was said to have claimed the baby she called Keira was one of twins - and that her brother, Harrison, born with Down's Syndrome, had died soon after birth.

Ms Jones was accused of weaving "an elaborate web of deceit" to gain revenge on her ex-boyfriend Daniel Barberini, 26, after their 16-month relationship ended.

New York

The disciplinary panel heard she thought up the hoax after a former schoolmate added her as a "friend" on Facebook to show her the pictures of her own daughter.

The photos showed the child hours after she was born, celebrating her first birthday, enjoying Christmas and playing at home.

Ms Jones claimed to have given birth to his twins in New York before emigrating from Britain to Australia.

The hoax came to light when Mr Barberini showed one of the pictures to a friend who also knew the baby's real mother.

Speaking before the hearing, Mr Barberini said: "I still can't believe how Victoria could be so cruel. I was so proud of my little girl and to lose her like that was just horrendous."

'One of the quietest'

The baby's mother informed the police but after an investigation officers ruled the teacher had not broken the law.

The mother said she remembered Ms Jones from school as "one of the quietest people you could ever meet".

"She had access to my Facebook site as a friend but I haven't seen her for six years," she said.

"After I found out what was going on she phoned me and wanted to meet up - but I said no."

Panel chairman John Collins said: "We are satisfied Miss Jones' actions fall short of that expected of a registered teacher.

"Although acts were conducted in her private life, the consequences impacted adversely in her standing as a teacher as well as bringing the profession into disrepute.

'Right-minded person'

"She used the photos to support a fictitious tale in her personal cause. We are satisfied she copied photos of the child from Facebook."

Presenting officer Gwenno Hughes-Marshall had earlier said some parents had regarded her actions as a silly mistake, while others had threatened to remove their children from the school.

"One student teacher didn't return as she didn't want to be associated with the school after Miss Jones' actions," she said.

The teacher, who did not attend the hearing, was represented by her union NASUWT.

Colin Adkins, her union representative, earlier told the panel: "Any right-minded person, as Victoria Jones does now, would consider her actions as wrong.

"But the acts were conducted in her private life."

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