Christchurch caretaker raped, violated schoolgirls in underground shed

A school caretaker and part-time teacher who sexually violated girls in his underground shed has been struck off the teachers’ register.

Twelve Christchurch primary school girls, three of them disabled, were repeatedly raped, sexually violated, indecently assaulted, or made to watch pornography in the caretaker’s shed or on a school bus.

In “a horrific abuse of trust”, described as one of New Zealand’s worst cases, Robert Selwyn Burrett, 64, a school caretaker, bus driver and part-time teacher, installed curtains and a lock in his school caretaker’s shed to sexually abuse them.

One girl aged 10 to 12 – the victim of repeated rapes – said it happened “most days, at morning tea and lunch time during school”. The victims ranged in age from five to 12 years.

The school where Burrett worked as a caretaker has defended its procedures. It believes it could not have done anything differently to discover his offending earlier.

Burrett worked as a bus driver for disabled children at another school. The bus company was contracted to the Ministry of Education, which police-checked him before he got the job.