A secondary schoolteacher paid teenage boys he met on the internet for oral sex in public toilets and at his home to ease pressure from work he could not handle, a court heard yesterday. Despite his fall from grace, Lee Tak-fai, 40, received widespread support from almost 200 students, teachers, principals, friends and family who wrote to the court pleading for clemency. They said Lee was a respectable teacher who had paid for a student to attend a tutorial centre to improve his poor English. Lee, who has since resigned as a teacher, pleaded guilty in the District Court to four counts of indecent assault for engaging in sex acts with three boys, aged between 13 and 15, between 2008 and last year. He also confessed to making child pornography by secretly filming his sex acts with one of the boys at his Tin Shui Wai home. The incidents came to light after one of the victims told a social worker and later reported the matter to police. All the victims, whom Lee paid between HK$500 and HK$3,000 for sex, were not his students, the court heard. Lee used a chat room on a gay site to contact boys between 14 and 19. He said the sexual encounters were consensual. In mitigation, defence lawyer Au Pak-ching submitted letters in which Lee was described as a hardworking and responsible teacher who was loved by his students. The court heard Lee sent a student who was bad at English to a tutorial centre and paid the tuition fees for a year. He also rented a flat for his students to study in the lead-up to a public examination. He is a founder of a charitable fund and a long-time member of St John Ambulance. Au said Lee paid boys for sex because he was overloaded with work and stressed. The lawyer said Lee was a liberal studies and mathematics teacher for elite students. He was also a member of a disciplinary committee that corrected students' misdeeds. Lee became stressed when he was given an additional task to promote the school's image ahead of a merger with another school. Judge Anthea Pang Ko-kam called for a background report, psychological and psychiatric reports, and impact assessment reports on the victims. Lee was remanded in custody for sentencing on July 22.