Former Larbert High head facing trial over child sex charges

Neal McGowan appeared at court in Chelmsford today
Neal McGowan appeared at court in Chelmsford today

A former Larbert High head teacher is to face trial for a string of alleged child sexual offences.

Neal McGowan (53) appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates Court today accused of five sex offences.

He is accused of abusing his position of trust by causing or inciting sexual activity with a boy aged 13 to 17 and causing the same boy to watch a sexual act.

Since being arrested in March, he has also been charged with three counts of making indecent images of a child.

The charges relate to incidents which allegedly took place while McGowan was head teacher of the South Woodham Ferrers school near Chelmsford, Essex.

The full charges are: Adult abuse of a position of trust by causing or inciting sexual activity with a boy 13 to 17 between January 1, 2016 and March 23, 2016 by intentionally inciting a boy aged under 18 receiving education at an education institution to engage in a sexual activity.

He is also accused of an adult abuse of a position of trust by causing the same child to watch a sexual act between the same dates.

He is charged with two offences of downloading indecent images between January 29, 2016 and March 22, 2016 involving four images at level C and one of downloading six moving images of level C, between the same dates.

Mr McGowan was granted conditional bail to appear at Chelmsford Crown Court on June 21 for a plea and trial management hearing.

He was ordered not to contact any prosecution witnesses or go to the William de Ferrers School, at South Woodham Ferrers, without prior permission of the current head teacher.

After he had given his name and address to the court the justices declined jurisdiction and ordered the case be tried by the Crown Court. McGowan gave no indication to his plea against all charges.

Prosecutor Angela Hughes had told them the case was not suitable for a magistrates court trial.

McGowan was head teacher at Larbert High School from 2004-2009 and Gracemount High School in Edinburgh from 1997 until 2002. He also taught at Banchory Academy in Kincardineshire from 2002-2004.

He now lives in Dickonsfield, Edinburgh and also taught at schools in Oxfordshire, South London and Bejing before becoming head teacher at William de Ferrers School, South Woodham Ferrers in Essex in 2013.

The court was told he is currently lecturing on education at universities and colleges across the country.

Press reporting restrictions were not lifted.