A BRITISH teacher who was jailed for 12 years with hard labour in Malawi for molesting street children has been pardoned by President Bakili Muluzi.

Richard Edward Hayles, originally from Teesside, will be deported from the southern African country.

He has served 17 months of his sentence, digging trenches and working in the prison gardens.

Chief commissioner of prisons Winston Manyera said the 56-year-old would be listed as a prohibited immigrant after he was deported.

Officials said Hayles would be put on a plane to London today.

His lawyer, Ambokire Salimu, said that clemency had been the last option for Hayles, whose two appeals had failed.

He had applied to the authorities on the basis of Hayles' remorse and on his good behaviour while behind bars.

Mr Salimu said: ''I pleaded on merit, not because he was a British national."

Hayles, a teacher at St Andrews High School, in Blantyre, Malawi, was arrested at Chileka International Airport in late-2001 as he tried to leave the country.

He was found guilty on three counts of molesting children after luring them to his luxury home between 1999 and 2001.

The boys, aged between 14 and 15, had run away from a club set up for homeless children.

They told police that Hayles offered them shelter and showered them with gifts in return for sexual favours.

Hayles maintained his innocence throughout the trial, saying he was merely helping needy children.