Teachers on trial: Lessons learned the hard way at courts
The teaching profession is filled with upstanding individuals who work hard to ensure the next generation are prepared for a bright and successful future, but not every teacher can be considered a good role model.
From large-scale fraud, to drink driving or possessing child exploitation material, these are the offences teachers and teacher's aides from across Greater Brisbane have been sentenced for.
EMMA FRANCES SAVAGE
A teacher's aide was who was caught with $4700 worth of ice learnt the hard way that crime does not pay when she was hauled before the Supreme Court in July, 2020.
Queensland police found Emma Frances Savage, 30, with 14g of ice and $1400 cash outside Morayfield Tavern at midnight on September 25, 2019.
The Currimundi mother, who was on bail at the time, was also found with 27 strips of the prescription drug buprenorphine that were taped inside a headphone box.
Savage, who has since lost her job as an aide, appeared in Brisbane Supreme Court after pleading guilty to two charges of possessing drugs and four summary drug offences.
Defence barrister Penelope White told the court that Savage was drug dependant at the time and was using up to 3.5g of ice a day.
Justice Ann Lyons said Savage would not be ordered to serve more time behind bars because of her limited criminal history and steps towards rehabilitation.
Savage was sentenced to two years' jail and given immediate parole.
JACOB JOHN SHARPE
28-year-old teacher's aide Jacob John Sharp pleaded guilty to common assault in Redcliffe Magistrates Court on August 13, 2020.
The court heard police were called to a disturbance at a Margate home on April 19, 2020 at about 2.10pm.
The victim told police Sharp had grabbed her phone from her, angry at who she was talking to.
Police Prosecutor Sergeant Bambrick said the defendant called the victim a "slut", "liar" and "whore" before slapping her across the side of her face and pushing her - causing her to fall to the ground.
"The victim stated he punched her with a closed fist and yelled 'you are a liar and I can't trust you'.
The court heard Sharp then threw the phone at the victim hitting her in the stomach and then punched her in the ribs.
Paramedics were called and the victim was taken to hospital to get treatment for her injuries.
Police located Sharp a short time later at Kippa-Ring Train Station and arrested him.
The court heard Sharp was currently employed as a teacher's aide and hoped to work in the industry in London after COVID-19.
Sharp was placed on a $750 good behaviour bond.
No conviction was recorded.
A high school teacher from Redcliffe Special School was more than five times the legal alcohol limit when she crashed her car into a pole, knocking herself out, the Pine Rivers Magistrates Court heard in December, 2020.
Rebecca Osborn, 38, had downed a bottle and a half of white wine at a friend's house at Griffin on October 18 when she made the ill-advised decision to drive home and crashed into a pole, defence lawyer Andy Bazzi of Armstrong Legal told the court.
The airbags were deployed, knocking Osborn unconscious, and when she next opened her eyes paramedics were on scene.
Osborn suffered multiple cuts and bruises to the left side of her face from the impact of the airbag, in addition to a large haematoma on her leg.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Chelsey Ham told the court police arrived on scene at Wagner Rd, near Swallow St, at around 6.30pm to find the car half mounted on the gutter and Osborn smelling of alcohol and slurring her speech.
Osborn was transported to the Royal Women's and Brisbane Hospital and police took a specimen of Osborn's blood, which revealed a blood-alcohol content of 0.252, more than five times the legal limit.
Character references tendered to the court demonstrated the behaviour was out of character for Osborn, who was described as an upstanding member of the community who volunteered her time to help others.
In her 22 years of driving, it was her first drink-driving offence.
Osborn pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and was fined $800 and disqualified from driving for 10 months.
No conviction was recorded.
A respected teacher aide of more than 25 years at a Logan primary school who spends her spare time volunteering scammed the Federal Government of more than $50,000 in welfare payments she was not entitled to over a seven-year period.
Slacks Creek woman Deborah Monaghan, 51, a teacher aide at Mabel Park State School, will serve three months behind bars of a two-year sentence before being released on a three-year, $3000 good behaviour bond.
Beenleigh Magistrates Court heard Monaghan obtained a financial advantage of $50,443.02 from Services Australia by consistently under-reporting her earnings at the school.
Monaghan is on leave at the school until the end of August and also had to resign her position as the treasurer of a local community group, the court was told.
Character references from a Mabel Park teacher and a parent of a student were tendered on her behalf.
"They say what a wonderful teacher aide you are," Magistrate Louise Shephard said.
"These are very serious offences, easy to commit and difficult to detect."
Monaghan pleaded guilty to two charges of obtaining a financial advantage by deception.
She will spend three months behind bars. Convictions were recorded.
Monaghan still has to repay about $47,000.
A primary school teacher's aide who posed as young girls on Instagram so he could exchange child abuse material has been sentenced to probation.
Education assistant Suyash Vaidya, 24, was arrested on the playground at Mansfield State School after police discovered 160 child exploitation images and videos on his personal laptop and phone in November 2019.
The Brisbane District Court was told how Vaidya had searched online for nude images of children and created two fake Instagram accounts using Google images of girls aged 12 and 13 with the caption #sweetdreams.
Crown prosecutor Jane Shaw detailed how Vaidya had sent and received child abuse material through the fake Instagram accounts in the three weeks before his arrest.
Vaidya, of Parkinson, pleaded guilty in the district court to four charges including accessing, distributing and possessing child exploitation material.
Barrister Michael Nicolson told the court that after his arrest, Vaidya had made full admissions about his offending to police and resigned from his position at the school.
Mr Nicholson argued that Vaidya's age, lack of criminal history, early plea of guilty and strong family support amounted to "exceptional circumstances" that warranted a suspended sentence.
Judge Orazio Rinaudo AM said Vaidya's offending had helped perpetuate the "significant humiliation and stress" that victims of child exploitation experience.
But he agreed with Mr Nicolson's submission that his sentence should be served in the community.
Vaidya was sentenced to 18 months' jail wholly suspended for two years.
He was also sentenced to 18 months' probation.
MADONNA MARIA DE VRIES
A former teacher illegally claimed more than $93,000 in carer's payment for looking after a sick husband over four years, although he was working as a schoolteacher at the time.
Madonna Maria De Vries claimed she did not know at first that her husband was going off to work at The Southport School, earning a salary as a senior maths and science teacher.
De Vries claimed her husband Dylan De Vries told her he was going to a charity south of the border to give back to the community and help with his rehabilitation.
In reality Mr De Vries was working 35 hours a week, but defence counsel Matt Jackson said De Vries was unaware he had a personal bank account.
De Vries pleaded guilty in Brisbane District Court on Tuesday to two counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception.
She was paid $93,288 in carer's payments, when she was not acting as her husband's carer, the court heard.
Her offending was detected after a data match in 2018, which also showed Mr De Vries was working at the school while he was receiving a disability support pension.
The court heard De Vries repaid the $93,288 before her sentence.
Mr Jackson told the court De Vries, a former teacher, had suffered from a major depressive disorder for 10 years and had been unable to work for many years.
Jude Dick sentenced De Vries to two years jail, with immediate release on a $1000 three-year good behaviour bond.
SHANI MAUREEN DOIG
A Brisbane Girls Grammar School Old Girl was handed a three-month suspended jail sentence after blowing 0.123 and crashing her car.
It was the latest in a long string of drink driving offences for Shani Maureen Doig, 52, and came only three months after she had finished probation for a similar charge, Holland Park Magistrates Court heard.
Police prosecutor Lauren Archer said Doig, a former schoolteacher, also had not renewed her drivers licence for 3008 days.
But her lawyer, Andy Bazzi, told the court his client was trying to turn her life around and was working on a paper on recidivist drink drivers and planned to interview 50 of them to gain insights into their offending.
Mr Bazzi said his client, who graduated from BGGS in 1985, had worked as a teacher and held a number of responsible administrative jobs including at the QUT Faculty of Law and in an internationally-renowned stem cell research centre at Griffith University.
She also founded a local branch of the Handbags For Hope charity which sources handbags from manufacturers and donates them to needy women.
Ms Archer said Doig was belligerent and rude to police when they turned up to investigate the June 20 crash at Camp Hill, in which Doig damaged her car and sideswiped the rear vision mirror of a parked car.
Magistrate Sue Ganasan sentenced Doig to three months' prison, suspended for nine months, and disqualified her from driving for 12 months, on the charge of not having proper control of a vehicle.
She disqualified Doig for two months and fined her $500 for the charge of driving over the middle alcohol limit.
Convictions were recorded for both charges and she also convicted Doig for driving without a licence but did not impose further punishment.
ANTHONY FRANCIS MILLETT
A former university lecturer and drama teacher who held a senior position at one of Brisbane's best-loved and oldest theatres was sentenced for possessing child exploitation material (CEM).
The Gap resident Anthony Francis Millett, 80, former principal of the College of Theatre Practice, Brisbane Arts Theatre's training arm, pleaded guilty in Brisbane District Court in April to the single charge, which stemmed from a September 17, 2016 search warrant executed by police on his address.
The court heard Millett had downloaded 132 images on May 21, 2009, using a peer-to-peer platform, as well as five videos sometime during 2008.
Only one of the videos, depicting two "naked teenage girls rubbing cream on each other", was considered CEM by the court.
It was accepted by the court there was no evidence Millett accessed the material or derived sexual gratification from it, merely that his criminal liability lay in having knowledge of the material on his systems.
The court heard Millett, taught for two years at Charters Towers State High School before becoming a speech and drama lecturer at what was then known as the Mt Gravatt College of Advanced Education, which became the Brisbane College of Advanced Education and is now Griffith University's Mt Gravatt campus.
He became a head of school in 1990, a role he held until 1994, the court heard.
Judge David Kent QC sentenced Millett to 80 hours' community service and did not record a conviction in order to allow Millett to return to teaching if he could convince the Queensland College of Teacher he was a fit and proper person.
GARRY JAMES TURNER
An Instagram-famous Gold Coast bodybuilder, model and science teacher was given a two-year jail sentence for supplying steroids, with immediate parole.
Garry James Turner, 41, of Coomera, pleaded guilty to nine counts of supplying dangerous drugs, including testosterone and a growth hormone, over six months in 2018.
Turner, who has had hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers of his bodybuilding photos, received $6000 for the steroids he supplied to clients.
On March, 21, 2019, police searched Turner's Coomera home and found drugs and two capped syringes and he was later fined $4000 for possession of steroids.
The court was told in some cases Turner made 100 per cent profit from the drug supply.
Turner taught science in schools for 13 years, but has had his registration cancelled since being charged.
Originally from the United Kingdom, Turner now faces possible deportation because of the drug supply convictions and jail sentence.
Justice Lyons said because of his Instagram notoriety, people would be aware of his sentence.
"I wish to stress to the community at large the severe consequences that follow your steroid use," Justice Lyons said.
"The grave concern is that you were in a position of influencing other people and the fact that you are a teacher who has had sporting teams in the past, who have been under your care and control, it is concerning.
Justice Lyons said it should be a fact that the teacher registration board should be well aware of.
Originally published as Teachers on trial: Lessons learned the hard way at Brisbane courts