April 2002

Abuse teacher gets seven years

A teacher who admitted 35 charges of gross indecency and indecent assault on primary school children has been sentenced to seven years in prison.

John Walker, 58, of Blackthorn Close in Headington, Oxford, pleaded guilty in February to abusing both boys and girls aged between eight and 11.

The offences centred on a primary school in Oxfordshire – which cannot be named for legal reasons – over a 13-year period between 1976 and 1989.

The prosecution said Walker ran chess and football clubs and helped out at annual summer camps to gain access to the pupils when they were alone.

During the court case at Oxford Crown Court in February, it emerged that Walker was issued with a formal complaint by the local education authority in 1989 after it received an anonymous letter detailing his abuse at the school.

He was forced to leave the primary school following the allegations but was able to teach at a private school in the county for a further 11 years until November 2000, when his crimes came to the attention of police.

Walker had denied a further 20 charges of indecent assault and indecency with a child. Those charges will lie “on file”.

He was remanded in custody, before being being sentenced on Friday at Reading Crown Court.

“Disgraceful offences”

Jailing him for seven years Judge Christopher Compston told Walker: “These were disgraceful and disgusting offences.

“Your victims have to live with what you did. This was a very serious breach of trust. Not only were you a school teacher, but in many ways you were treated as a family friend.

“The children were very, very young and indeed it’s quite clear you must have chosen those in awe of you as you were their school teacher.”

Walker was permanently disqualified from teaching children, and ordered to go on the sex offenders’ register for life.