Disgraced former Sunderland teacher jailed over Facebook ticket scam

Kieran Patel.
Kieran Patel.

A disgraced teacher who was banned from classrooms in England after voicing a four-letter opinion about actor John Barrowman has now been jailed over a Facebook ticket fraud.

During his career Kieran Patel boasted to pupils about links with celebrities and used swearwords to describe both the Doctor Who star and his own supposed out-of-school activities.

The 29-year-old former English and performing arts teacher, who once worked at Cheadle Centre, in Hylton Castle, Sunderland, was banned from teaching by a Professional Conduct Panel in 2016.

He had also been given a community order in 2015 for abusing his position of trust by stealing £581 from a school's petty cash.

Newcastle Crown Court has heard that while subject to the 12 month order, Patel masterminded an online ticket scam that promised discounted access to world class performances.

Patel duped two pals into advertising cut price passes to WWE events, boxing, Six Nations rugby, Disney On Ice, as well as Adele, Lady Gaga and Beyonce concerts over Facebook pages.

But the court heard in return for their cash that many customers received only excuses and were left angry and out of pocket.

One customer, who had bought tickets, as well as new Disney outfits for nieces to watch the On Ice show, had to tell the little girls they couldn't go.

Another arranged a batch of passes for new work colleagues but had to then tell them they had been defrauded.

Prosecutor Tony Cornberg told the court police received a total of 141 complaints from customers in the Northumbria and Durham force areas.

Mr Cornberg added: "A total of £33,672 was handed over for tickets that did not exist."

Patel, of Burnhope Road, Barmston, Washington, admitted fraud.

Judge Tim Gittins sentenced him to 20 months behind bars.

The judge said the government currently has restrictions for ticket sellers under consideration and told Patel: "For victims such as the victims of your fraud, the sooner such businesses are regulated completely the better."

The judge said although some people lost out on sums of cash that were not enormous, the harm caused was about more than money.

Judge Gittins added: "Some, no doubt, could ill afford and had saved up for some time for the dream of seeing such world class performances such as six nations rugby, Adele Lady Gaga, Disney and the like.

"Often there were young children eagerly awaiting their trip to Disney On Ice or WWE or to see their pop idol, all promises and hopes dashed by your dishonest behaviour."

Vic Laffey, defending, said Patel, who has a pregnant partner and young child, had set up the business with honest intentions in 2016.

At the time he had significant debts due to gambling problems.

Mr Laffey added: "He was promising people things he could not fulfil.

"He was promising tickets at a price he could not cope with, having to buy tickets in excess of what he promised people."

Mr Laffey said Patel, who poses a "low risk", to the public had been desperate to try and keep things "normal" for his family, who knew nothing about his dishonesty.