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No offending identified during paedophile’s stint at music centre – police

Police who have investigated a convicted paedophile who taught at a Wellington music centre are not saying if he might be tutoring elsewhere.

 

Their investigations show Stephen Shone, who is about 40, tutored weekend music lessons at Island Bay School in 2017 and last year, up to a dozen times. Some lessons were in groups and one child was taught individually.

RNZ broke the story in February, after being alerted by an anonymous source, triggering the police investigation and a month-long closure of the centre, though at that time the identity of the tutor had not been confirmed.

Shone’s parole conditions, including having to avoid children, expired shortly after he was released in 2016 after serving seven years in prison for sexual offending against five teenage girls who were students of his in Gisborne.

He told RNZ in February by email that he’d never worked at the Wellington Music Centre.

RNZ has asked him anew for an interview but has not heard back.

The centre did no police vetting of Shone or other tutors, as required by law since 2014. The centre has since introduced vetting and reopened.

Centre organiser Kathy Kent refused to comment to RNZ on Monday 20 May beyond saying the situation was “very” unfortunate.

But back in February she told RNZ that Shone gave them his real name when he began work at the centre.

Shone had been brought in as a reliever for at most a couple of shifts, she said in February, adding she was “horrified” to hear of his past.

Police investigation

But the police investigation shows he tutored between eight and 11 times in 2017 and once in 2012, teaching keyboard and guitar.

He also conducted “a few private lessons for one of the students of the music school”, Detective Sergeant Terry Fraser told the principal of Island Bay School, Deborah Fenton, in a letter a fortnight ago, released under the Official Information Act to Stuff, then to RNZ.

The parent was “in attendance”, the school board told music centre parents a week ago.

“I have not identified any criminal offending that took place at this point of time,” Det Sgt Fraser said.

The school admitted not overseeing the centre properly.

It had now received an independent review “and changes to our policies and procedures will occur as necessary”, the board said.

In February, Ms Kent said that from her conversations with Shone, it sounded to her that he was also doing private tuition.

The police did not respond to RNZ’s questions about whether they had looked into any other interactions Shone might be having with children since he stopped tutoring at Island Bay.

The legal obligations to vet relievers at the likes of music centres remains a grey area, and it is not mandatory to police-check volunteers – private tutors can operate without vetting.

2009 sentencing

At Shone’s sentencing in 2009 for sex crimes including repeated offending against a 13-year-old over a six-month period, the judge said Shone had exploited their age differences.

He barraged the girl with hundreds of text messages.

Media reported in 2008 the suggestion that a lack of quality music teachers in Gisborne led to Shone seeing a lot of pupils after hours.

His teacher registration was cancelled and a censure recorded against him on the public register of New Zealand Registered Teachers.

The Parole Board in 2016 said there had been a change in Shone’s attitude and behaviour and put this down to his Catholic beliefs.

Police said the information from their music centre investigation would remain on the National Intelligence Application computer system.

The school board had replaced informal management of the music centre with formal management of its employees, who it said had all now been police vetted and interviewed.

“We have also created a pool of relievers, who are also police vetted, that absent teachers can call on to take their place if necessary. If a vetted reliever is not available, lessons will unfortunately have to be cancelled for that session.”

Extra lessons are being held to catch up after the month-long closure.

RNZ / Phil Pennington