March 2012

Fourth former Crookham Court School teacher jailed for child abuse

TWENTY-three years after teachers at a former boarding school near Thatcham were convicted of child abuse, another former teacher has now been jailed for his part in the sex scandal.

Mark Standish, 48, was a tutor at a notorious boarding school in the late 1980s which came to national prominence when three of its teachers were jailed for 10 years for grave sexual offences against its pupils.

Standish gave evidence for the prosecution against the Crookham Court School teachers at the original trial in 1991.

But he remained under the radar of the police until his victim, who was aged 14 at the time of the offences in 1987 and is now aged 38 years, came forward.

Standish was forced to resign from his £120,000 post in Kosovo as head of security sector programme with the UN when he was convicted by a jury after a 10 day trial last month.

Standish, who had been living with his civil partner, showed no emotion as he was sentenced by Judge Stephen John at Reading Crown Court today.

The court heard that Standish took up the post of teacher at Crookham Court School, in Thatcham, Berkshire, (pic below) and immediately gained the trust of the boy’s parents.

Mark Standish, also known as Alex Standish, of Station Street, Waterhouses, Durham, was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment at Reading Crown Court on Friday, after a jury found him guilty of four counts of indecently assaulting a pupil while he was a teacher at the now closed Crookham Court School.

The school adopted a pocket money system where parents would give teachers money at the start of a term for their child.

Standish allowed the victim to spend more than he had and later made him work to pay him back – threatening to tell his parents if the teenager didn’t do as he instructed.

He made him perform physical exercise in his own living quarters at the school – eventually making him do it naked.

The court was told how Standish then progressed to sexually abusing the boy – with his assaults getting worse over time.

When the school hit the headlines in the late 80s after the abuse scandal broke, Standish – to cover his own back and stop his victim reporting him – advised his parents to withdraw him from the school.

The school was closed after being exposed on BBC TV series That’s Life, which led to three members of staff being convicted for sexual abuse in the late 1980s.

After a trial at Reading Crown Court in 1989, owner of the school, Philip Cadman, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, reduced to six years on appeal in 1992.

French teacher, William Printer, was convicted of two indecent assaults and one attempted serious sexual assault, and was imprisoned for 10 years at the same trial. He also has his sentence cut to six years.

While English teacher, Anthony Edmonds, was jailed for six years after admitting four charges of serious sexual assault and seven charges of indecent assault.

Now 48-year-old Standish has been found guilty of incidents that took place between 1988 and 1989.

At Reading Crown Court on Friday, Judge Stephen John said Standish had deliberately targeted the vulnerable teenager, having befriended his parents who were abroad at the time.

Judge John added that the school had been run by a “sadistic and brutal regime”.