Headteacher jailed for school abuse

Roland Peter Wright assaulted five pupils aged between eight and 13

Roland Peter Wright assaulted five pupils aged between eight and 13

First published in National News © by

A former headteacher at the prep school attended by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has been sentenced to eight years' imprisonment for abusing boys at the school.

Roland Wright, 83, who taught at Caldicott Boys' Preparatory School in Farnham Royal, Buckinghamshire, assaulted five pupils aged between eight and 13 between 1959 and 1970.

His sentencing at Amersham Crown Court went ahead despite the death of another former teacher who had been due to be sentenced with him.

His former colleague, Hugh Henry, 82, apparently threw himself under a train on Tuesday.

Judge Johannah Cutts QC told Wright: "These offences were so serious that it is beyond question that only a custodial sentence can be justified.

"I have to sentence you for multiple offending against each of these victims.

"This was prolonged activity, the boys were groomed by a master at a school responsible for their care."

Mr Clegg, who was joint head boy at Caldicott in 1980, spoke of his horror after Wright's conviction at Amersham Crown Court in December for 10 counts of indecent assault on a male and two of indecency with a child.

He told The Times he was "shocked and appalled by the gross betrayal and violation of childhood innocence shown to have taken place".

He said: "These reports will disturb everyone, but most especially those, like myself, who were pupils at the school and were entirely unaware that such abuse was taking place.

"I can only imagine the devastating impact that such abuse must have had on the young boys who were affected. My heart goes out to them."

The body of Henry, 82, who also taught at the school, was found near Amersham Underground station.

The judge heard it had been identified by police. She officially closed the file in Henry's case.

Henry, of Pomeroy Close, Amersham, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of indecency with or towards a child, and two counts of gross indecency with a child.

Another former teacher at the school, John Addrison, 54, from Slough in Berkshire, pleaded guilty to offences of indecent assault and indecency with a child and was sentenced to five years' imprisonment at Aylesbury Crown Court in November 2012.

David Geddes, 71, from Upper Wield, Hampshire, was acquitted by a jury at a re-trial in March last year, after being charged with four counts of indecent assault on a child under 16.

Tom Perry, 60, who was the first Caldicott complainant, in 2001, and a witness in Wright's trial, said afterwards: "I think it sends a very strong message to those people who are abusers of children, that you can get to the age of 83 and get eight years. I'm pleased with the sentence only for that reason."

The judge said that during the years 1959-70 Wright, of Farnham Royal, was employed as a school master then headmaster of the school.

He began employment in 1952, and was headmaster from 1968 until his retirement in 1993.

"I readily accept that you dedicated your life to this school," she said.

However, great trust had been placed in him, and he abused that trust.

"Far from protecting and nurturing the boys you used them at a whim - to satisfy what you wanted from them regardless of the impact on them."

He fostered an environment where those good at sport were the elite in the school.

"Boys craved your attention and strove for your praise. From those you picked out boys for your individual sexual attentions."

The boys he chose were aged primarily 11, 12 or 13, the judge said.

He had a bedsit room next to the senior boys' dormitory.

"You used the proximity of the room to the dormitories and the distance of that area from the rest of the school to set up your own little fiefdom and used it to abuse boys."

The judge said those who were abused should not feel guilt or consider they were complicit in any way.

"All were children in the care of an adult who had little but his own sexual gratification in mind."

The judge said she took into account that Wright was not in the best of health, needed assistance with day to day care and no longer posed a risk to children.

But she added: "I cannot ignore the impact of your behaviour on so many boys. It is clear from the impact statements that I have read that your conduct has had a lasting effect upon them."

And she said: "Looking at the entirety of your offending the least sentence I can impose is one of eight years' imprisonment."

He will be on the sex offenders' register for life and included on the list held by the safeguarding authority of those banned from working with children.

Liz Dux, abuse lawyer at Slater & Gordon, which represents more than 70 of Jimmy Savile's victims, said it was an injustice that "a predator like Wright could go on abusing innocent and terrified young people for so long in the Sixties and Seventies without being detected.

She said: "Never again must the silence that existed around people like Wright and Savile be allowed to exist.

"Sadly, in many of these cases, those in positions of authority knew of the abuse and failed to take adequate steps to protect these innocent children.

"This emphasises the need to introduce some form of mandatory reporting to ensure that the vulnerable are better protected in the future and I would call on the Government to act now to further protect our children.

"Although it is devastating that any of these horrific things could ever have taken place, we are encouraged that due to a shift in attitude more people feel able to speak out about the abuse they have suffered.

"Many victims suffer psychological trauma as a result of the sickening abuse they received and I hope that, by speaking out and seeking redress, they will be able to achieve a sense of justice and access any treatment they need."

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