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Missing man had been arrested on sex charges

PUBLISHED: 10:37 19 May 2009 | UPDATED: 09:38 06 July 2010

A MAN found dead near train tracks is a former junior school headteacher who had been arrested on suspicion of seriously sexually assaulting a child, it emerged last night.

A MAN found dead near train tracks is a former junior school headteacher who had been arrested on suspicion of seriously sexually assaulting a child, it emerged last night.

Paul Powell's body was discovered by railway workers close to train tracks behind the old Cattle Market, in Norwich, on Saturday.

Mr Powell was a former headteacher at Loddon Junior School but he left following an investigation into a complaint made against him.

Police had been searching for the 45-year-old since officers went to his boat home at Oulton Broad after concerns were raised for his safety.

He had not been seen since Tuesday, May 5, and extensive searches of the waterways around Lake Lothing and the banks of the river from Oulton Broad to the sea had failed to locate him.

Mr Powell was arrested in February following a serious allegation.

A Norfolk police spokeswoman confirmed: “A 45-year-old man from the Lowestoft area was arrested on suspicion of a serious sexual assault of a child under the age of 13. He was released on police bail pending further enquiries.”

It is understood the alleged offence did not happen on a school premises.

An investigation was launched by British Transport Police after Mr Powell's body was discovered on Saturday at about 12.15pm.

His body was found in the undergrowth and police think he could have been there for some time.

Yesterday, police could not confirm if Mr Powell had been hit by a train and said they were waiting for post mortem results.

A Suffolk police spokeswoman said the death is being treated as unexplained, but there are not thought to be any suspicious circumstances.

Mr Powell offered to take leave from his post at Loddon Junior School in June 2007 while Norfolk County Council looked into a complaint made about him and other concerns raised about the school.

At the end of the month more than 50 parents signed a petition calling for his return and complaining that they had not been given enough information about the concerns raised by governors. Children at the school also started a petition in support of their headteacher.

By the start of the new term in September 2007 the board of governors and county council had finished their investigations and Mr Powell returned. But by the end of the month ill health caused him to leave work again. In June last year a letter was sent to parents saying Mr Powell would not be returning to the school.

Mr Powell was popular and credited with helping to improve the school after he took over in September 2006 at the end of a difficult period which saw four headteachers in two years and change from a middle to a junior school.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said that Mr Powell took the decision to end his employment with the school. He said that the decision was made in the mutual interests of Mr Powell and the school on management grounds.

Beverley Hall, the current headteacher of Loddon Junior School, said: “This is tragic news, and the thoughts of the school community go out to his family.

“Clearly we still have some pupils and staff here who remember Paul from his time with the school, and we will be working to support them as appropriate following this news.”

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