May 2020

Coggeshall Honywood School teacher sent penis picture to ’15-year-old boy’ and tried to meet for sex

A secondary school teacher sent explicit images and arranged to meet a child for sex before being busted by a paedophile hunter.

Oliver Ciaravella, who was head of science at Honywood School in Coggeshall at the time of his offending, started a conversation with the profile of a young boy on the gay dating app Grindr on September 20, 2017 – while working on school premises.

He sent pictures of his penis and bottom to the account, which was being controlled by a paedophile hunter group, before arranging to meet the ‘child’ after school.

After driving from Coggeshall to Braintree later that same day, Ciaravella, of Mersea Road, Langenhoe, was met by police officers who arrested him at the location.

During his sentencing hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court on Tuesday (May 5), the court heard how the 39-year-old had suggested he would “fellate” the 15-year-old boy when they met.

The court heard that the former teacher was a man of good character prior to the incident.

But following his arrest around two-and-a-half years ago, Ciaravella’s career was left in tatters as he was forced to resign.

He had originally pleaded not guilty to the charge of arranging and facilitating the commission of a child sex offence, claiming he had no intent to commit an offence or knowledge that the child was under 16.

He then changed his plea to guilty on February 27 this year.

Emma Nash, prosecuting, said: “On the day of the offence he was the head of science at a school for 11 to 16-year-olds.

“He was at work in his school when at 11.48am on September 20, 2017, he went onto the mobile phone app Grindr. There he conversed in conversation with a profile purported to be a 15-year-old boy.

“He sent two photos, one which included his penis and bottom. Immediately the tone was sexual.”

The court also heard that Ciaravella, who was 37 at the time, told the profile he was 31, and that the account had told him he was a child aged 15.

They then arranged to meet and after asking the profile what he was up for, Ciaravella suggested they should engage in oral sex.

“The defendant asked why the child wasn’t in school and he received the response that he was a problem child and only had to go to school on Mondays and Fridays,” Ms Nash added. “They arranged to meet at 3pm that afternoon.

“The defendant set off and arrived at the location after travelling from Coggeshall to Braintree. The vigilante had informed the police and they were there to arrest Ciaravella.

“This was a vigilante. His intent was the same but it remains a fact that no child suffered as a result of this offence.”

The sentencing was conducted online, with counsel and Judge David Taylor all communicating over an internet video call.

Ciaravella was present in the courtroom along with Judge Taylor at Chelmsford Crown Court, and was addressed directly while being sentenced for the offence.

“You pleaded guilty rather later than you should have,” Judge Turner said.

“The offence in question which you were in mind to commit was an offence directed towards a 15-year-old boy and it involved what may broadly be called oral sex.

“Fortunately for you the boy didn’t exist, it was a paedophile hunter. You made suggestions that you might fellate this boy and to support that you sent some photos of yourself and that in my judgement resulted in grooming behaviour.

The 39-year-old was handed an 18-month community order which requires him to undertake a sex offender programme as well as a 20-day rehabilitation requirement.

He must also complete 180 hours of unpaid work, pay £500 towards court costs and has been handed a five-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order.