April 2004

Ex-Soham teacher jailed for child abuse

A former teacher at Soham Village College has been jailed for two years today after admitting a series of indecent assaults on two boys in his classes.

Robert Howieson, 56, who used to teach chemistry at the school where child killer Ian Huntley was caretaker, appeared at Cambridge Crown Court to be sentenced after pleading guilty to three counts of indecent assault, one charge of one gross indecency and one of instructing a boy to commit gross indecency.

The court heard how Howieson, who taught at the Soham school between 1975 and 1982, assaulted two boys, aged 12 and 14.

The assault on the 12-year-old, in July 1980, was carried out in Howieson’s chemistry lab after he had taken the boy on a training run as part of a hill-walking club he ran at the school.

Howieson stripped naked to dry off following the run, before performing an indecent act on the boy. He then made the youngster perform the indecent act on him, the court heard.

The teacher assaulted the second boy over a number of weeks in 1982. He hit him with a belt as punishment for causing trouble in school.

Jailing the married father today, trial judge Jonathan Howarth said Howieson had committed an appalling breach of trust by assaulting the boys as a teacher.

He said: “You were a school teacher in a position of absolute trust and you abused that trust. “You were in the position to abuse for your own gratification.

“It is suggested that what you did was at the lower end of the scale. I disagree, what you did was more subtle than touching and you used your authority as a teacher.

“These are serious offences because of the grave breach of trust and the deception involved.” Howieson was ordered to sign on to the sex offenders’ register for ten years and was disqualified from ever working with children.