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Jailed teacher's 'dreadful mistake'
An art teacher jailed for drug smuggling says his conviction saved his life and could help others learn from his "dreadful" mistake.
Edward Paul Bollom was handed an 18-month prison term last year after taking cannabis, mescaline, LSD and class A drug 2CB into Guernsey.
A court on the island heard he tried to hide some of the drugs - worth around £2,000 on the isle - inside a pillow, but was caught out by sniffer dogs.
Swansea-born Mr Bollom served 10 months before being released on parole - which he said was the minimum amount of jail time the island allowed.
Now clean and sober for the past year and a half, the 32-year-old attends weekly narcotics anonymous meetings and hopes to get back into teaching.
Speaking at a General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) d isciplinary hearing, he insisted he was a changed man.
He said: "It has turned me around and put me on the right path.
"I hope I can continue to inspire creativity in children.
"I'm a dedicated, honest man who made some wrong choices.
"I made a terrible mistake and I sincerely apologise.
"I let myself, my family and my profession down.
"I genuinely learned from my mistakes and committed to my sobriety."
In 2012, Mr Bollom said he walked away from his post at La Mare De Carteret High School, and decided to work at music festivals instead.
He said: "I'd just found myself very lost and I began smoking cannabis and experimenting with hallucinogenics.
"That's obviously where things began to go horribly wrong.
"It began to affect my decision-making ability and it all really started to go a bit pear shaped."
And on December 2 of that year, his car was stopped by customs officials on the Channel Isle.
Mr Bollom said he was returning to the isle to obtain paperwork for the vehicle - which he had bought there - so he could legally drive it on the British mainland.
"My rationality to make sane decisions was impaired," he added.
"I didn't consider what I had in my bag.
"I was smoking a lot of cannabis at the time.
"For me drugs became a real crutch.
"It seems insane now, but looking back I thought they were helping me.
"Obviously now, a year and half sober, I can see that I was completely lost."
During the search operation of Mr Bollom's car, sniffer dogs found 7.82 grammes of cannabis, 91.20 grammes of cannabis resin, five "tabs" of LSD, 0.21 grammes of mescaline and two tablets of 2CB.
The latter drug is a lesser-known Class A substance often used by ecstasy users to prolong their "high".
On April 3 last year, at Guernsey Royal Courts, Mr Bollom pleaded guilty to five charges of knowingly being concerned in the importation of drugs.
After losing his liberty and his jail term being reported in the media, the music lover found himself at rock bottom.
But he told the GTCW his time inside changed him for the better.
He said: "While incarcerated I did take up teaching art to several of the inmates there.
"It was also there that I found my creativity and sobriety were very much linked.
"I was working much better than I ever had been."
Once on the outside, Mr Bollom started working at a seaside cafe - and pieced back his life together with the help from fellow ex-addicts at weekly meetings.
He said: "It was great to have that support and go through it with people who have also hit rock bottom put picked themselves up.
"What I have learned from these meetings is that we are flawed.
"We are all capable making dreadful decisions and we don't consider how much these ripples can expand out and how dangerous simple choices can be.
"One thing it has taught me is to think about your actions and behaviour and make the right decision.
"And as regrettable as the events are, I do think that they saved my life."
He told the committee his still is passionate about teaching - and that was something which would never leave him.
"Whatever the decision the committee makes today I am not going to want to stop teaching," he added.
"I am never going to stop teaching, it's just a question of whether I can do it in a formal way.
"I love showing people how to be creative, that's really what inspires me.
"Not a day goes by that I don't regret the choices I've made.
"But I genuinely feel I have learned from them and I've still got a lot to offer."
Mr Bollom, who had no prior criminal record, also said the "small amount" of drugs he had been caught with were for personal use.
However, despite the committee accepting Mr Bollom had shown "genuine remorse" and "insight" into his actions, a three-person panel chaired by Tracy Jones still imposed the ultimate sanction and struck the registrant off.
Mr Bollom was told the decision was "not to punish him for a second time" but to "protect pupils" and "maintain confidence in the teaching profession".
The hearing was also told teachers should "at all times present themselves as role models to pupils".
Other punishments the panel could have imposed included an official reprimand, a conditional registration order as well as a suspension.
The GTCW's decision means will Mr Bollom will be banned from teaching for a minimum of two years. Once that period has elapsed, he can apply for reinstatement.
The registrant has 28 days in which to appeal against the decision.
Looking visibly upset as he left the Parc Hotel, where today's hearing took place, Mr Bollom declined to comment on the verdict.