A former deputy head teacher from Somerset who was jailed for abusing pupils has had his sentence cut after the judge heard he had cancer.
Philip Walker, 61, from Cannington, was jailed for four-and-a-half years in April after he admitted 14 charges of indecently assaulting children.
Bristol Crown Court heard how pupils did complain but his offences were covered up by those in authority. Walker’s sentence was cut to three years at the Court of Appeal.
The assaults happened between 1978 and 1996. The Somerset schools where he taught included the boys-only agricultural Brymore School, where he was deputy head, and Heathfield School in Taunton.
At the Court of Appeal in London on Thursday, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge described Walker as an “intermittent low-level offender”.
Although he recognised the severe impact on Walker’s seven victims, the judge said Walker was now suffering from cancer and that his guilty pleas would have provided “considerable vindication” to his victims.
Pervert teacher dubbed ‘touchy feely Walker’ is jailed for string of sex offences against pupils
A pervert teacher nicknamed ‘touchy feely Walker’ by students has been jailed for four and a half years for a string of sex offences against pupils.
Disgraced ex-deputy head Philip Walker, 61, used his position at two secondary schools in Somerset to befriend, groom and abuse boys and girls over a 20-year period.
Bristol Crown Court heard that Walker’s behaviour was reported to the schools’ headteachers but the pupils were told not to tell tales.
Walker, who taught PE and drama, would use the cover of those lessons to get close to pupils.
He would get the girls to jump on a trampoline so he could see their underwear while also using drama role-play to indecently touch them.
Walker would ping girls’ bra straps as well as run his hands down their bottoms and touch their legs and breasts, the court was told.
He would also walk into the girls’ changing rooms after PE lessons on the pretext of speaking to other sports teachers.
Walker’s behaviour was well known among pupils, the court heard.
Kerry Barker, prosecuting, said: ‘This was an insidious form of grooming and a blatant breach of trust.
‘Mr Walker was known among those pupils as, I quote, a ‘perv’.
He was known as ‘pervy Walker’ and ‘touchy feely Walker’.’
A group of girls went to see the headmaster but he told them to stop ‘spreading nasty rumours’.
‘A number of pupils reported his behaviour to the headmaster at both schools but no action was taken,’ Mr Barker said.
‘Girls were told they were being ‘silly girls’.
‘It is quite clear that it was the schools’ intention to cover up the behaviour and the allegations against Mr Walker.
‘On some occasions they told the parents of the children that it was not in the interest of the child to report the matters.’
Mr Barker added: ‘It is quite clear from the police investigation the headmaster was made fully aware on a number of occasions about Mr Walker’s behaviour, but choose to do nothing about it.
‘Despite the complaints, Mr Walker was allowed to continue teaching.’
The offences came to light last year and Walker was arrested by police and later charged.
At an earlier hearing he pleaded guilty to 14 counts of indecent assault, including 12 against girls, between 1978 and 1988, and two against boys between 1994 and 1996.
The offences were committed against seven pupils – two aged under 13 – and the rest older.
Walker, of Bridgwater, Somerset, pleaded not guilty to 10 other counts of the same offence between 1976 and 1990.
He also denied three counts of sexual assault against boys, by touching, from 2006 to 2008. All 13 charges he denied were ordered to lie on file.
Walker – who had been in the profession for 36 years – retired from full-time teaching in 2004 and had been fighting bowel cancer, but continued to work as a supply teacher until 2008. Walker is currently in remission.
Paul Mason, defending, said his client was truly remorseful for what he had done.
‘He feels extremely sorry for what’s happened,’ he said.
‘Undoubtedly the offences are serious because they occurred against the background of a breach of trust.’
Walker’s wife and sister were in court and wiped away tears as Judge David Ticehurst passed a four-and-a-half-year prison sentence today.
Judge Ticehurst branded Walker a ‘disgrace to the teaching profession’ and said he had an unhealthy interest in children.
‘You befriended them and groomed them in order to abuse them. It was not an aberration on your part and it continued for many years,’ the judge said.
‘It is clear form the Victim Impact Statements that this is going to remain with these people for the rest of their lives and no sentence I impose can undo the damage you have caused to these girls.
‘In my judgement your way of life was a carefully constructed to enable you to live the lie you did and to abuse young children.
‘I consider that you are a dangerous and devious man with a considerable interest in young children.
‘You have brought the teaching profession into disrepute. You are a disgrace to the teaching profession.’
Walker was also placed on the sex offenders register for life and made the subject of a sexual offences prevention order.