A FORMER teacher has been jailed for 13 years for sexually abusing a number of his pupils in the 1980s, including six boys from Winterfold House School in Chaddesley Corbett.
Jonathan O’Brien of Fairfield Road, Bosham, West Sussex was sentenced today (Tuesday) by his honour Judge Richard Fraser at Chichester Crown Court.
The 56-year-old pleaded not guilty to 15 counts of indecent assault on the students from Winterfold House between 1980 and 1985 and three others from The Oratory School, Reading, between 1985 and 1989.
The sentence comes after a four week trail which found him guilty of the offence he was convicted for last December.
O’Brien was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life and was handed a Sexual Offences Prevention Order which, on release, bans him from living or sleeping at the same house as a child under 16 unless it had been approved by his managing Public Protection Officer.
He was also prohibited from having any unsupervised contact or communication with anyone under 16 unless it had been inadvertent or not reasonably avoidable.
Det Sgt Steve Cook, who led the investigation for North Worcestershire CID, said the probe began in November 2012, when a man came forward to say O’Brien, who taught sports and photography, had sexually abused him at Winterfold School.
The victim then informed former school friends about the investigation and this led to others coming forward, including some who had attended The Oratory School.
Then, further victims, including some who lived abroad, contacted the police after O’Brien was arrested and charged in February, last year.
The court heard how the offences had involved pupils who were boarding at both schools and some had happened in O’Brien’s home in Oxfordshire while he was teaching at The Oratory.
DS Cook added how the teacher had refused to comment when he was questioned despite the growing weight of the evidence against him – leading to the victims being forced to go through the ordeal of testifying in court.
He added the fact some of the victims travelled long distances, from abroad, to give evidence illustrated their determination to expose O’Brien.
“O’Brien engaged in the systematic abuse of boys over a long period of time.
“In doing so he also disgracefully abused the position of trust he was in and that was particularly relevant in this case as he was teaching in boarding schools where the children were away from their families and had nowhere else to go.
“He exploited their vulnerability and they did not feel at that time they could come forward because ‘it wasn’t the thing to do’ and that they wouldn’t be believed.
“Now they are extremely relieved that this has come out into the open – hopefully the victims can now put this behind them knowing that O’Brien is paying for his crimes.
“I would also like to echo the judge’s remarks during sentencing by paying tribute to all the witnesses for the amazing courage they have shown in coming forward.
“We hope if there are other victims of O’Brien we are not aware of, this will give them the confidence to come forward as well as reassuring victims of similar offences that even if these matters are reported many years later we will still investigate thoroughly and bring those responsible to justice,” he said.
Judge Fraser said: “The sentiments expressed reflect the evidence that each of them gave in court – a number of them unable to hold back tears as they were forced to relive your abuse.
“It was abundantly clear from the understandably emotional evidence they gave during your trial that your actions have left a very dark shadow which each them has had to find ways to deal with.”
DS Cook also praised the dedication of the North Worcestershire officers who had worked on the harrowing and logistically difficult case with with the Sussex Police.