Teacher Punished for Stealing Facebook Photos

A primary school teacher in Wales who stole Facebook photos of a child to trick her ex-boyfriend into thinking she had given birth to his baby has been banned from teaching for two years.

Victoria Jones, 23, allegedly wanted revenge after her 26-year-old boyfriend, Daniel Barberini, dumped her after they had dated for 16 months, Wales News Service reported. So she grabbed her friend's baby pictures from Facebook and passed them off as her own.

In an email to Barberini, Jones claimed she had given birth to his twins -- a boy who died soon after birth, and a girl who she had taken to live in Australia.

"This is so sick -- it has just destroyed us," the true mother of the child, Sarah Jensen, told Wales News Service this week. "Daniel had 82 pictures of Aliyah on his Facebook -- all sent by Vicky who made out the baby was theirs."

Jensen provided the emails to Wales News Service. On April 15, 2009 Jones wrote, "It's 9.15pm over here. Kei is sleeping right through now. She's growing up so quickly. I mean she was born premature, and yet she's fit and healthy and doing soooo well. I'm so proud!!!!"

In October, Jones appears to be answering a series of questions from Barberini about the little girl he thought was his child: "What's her favourite activity to do with her mum? Cuddles and she loves swimming. Has she picked up any naughty habits yet? Only throwing things when I say no!" she wrote. "How's walking? Too good - she's discovered speed so is like a running machine!"

Earlier that same year, Jones wrote, "You will never find anyone that loves you as much as I once did. I was always there for you and always cared for you ... You find that kind of loyalty and love again? Well I doubt it to be honest."

Barberini reportedly believed the child was his, until he showed pictures of the little girl to a friend who knew Jensen.

When Jensen found out, she called the Gwent Police.

"I was crying so much I could barely talk," she told Wales News Service. "Her ex, Daniel, arrived at the police station and he was just devastated too. I'd never met him before but he said, 'I'm so sorry.'"

Jones taught 3-year-olds at Ringland Primary School, so the police contacted the General Teaching Council for Wales, a professional regulatory body comprised of teachers. The Council then held a tribunal to examine whether Jones' actions had violated the Council's code of conduct. Jones admitted she had taken the pictures, but denied any professional misconduct.

One section of the code requires that teachers "act with honesty and integrity," by representing "themselves, their experience, professional position and qualifications honestly."

At today's hearing, attended by the Wales News Service, the Council found Jones guilty of misconduct, but ruled she had not compromised her trust with pupils or dishonored the school itself. She is barred from teaching for two years at which point she can reapply for her job.

"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," panel chairman John Collins said at the disciplinary hearing. "The behaviour did not occur during school hours and did not affect pupils. However the conduct could not be described as an isolated incident."

A spokesman for Ringland Primary School was not immediately available for comment.