‘Play doctors’ sex abuser’s jail term

A FORMER Burnley schoolteacher who used his position at a church to befriend and then sexually abuse young children has been jailed.

Nicholas Hoyle, 32, of Schofield Road, Rawtenstall, pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent assault against young boys between 1994 and 2000.

Preston Crown Court heard Hoyle was a former member of a Rossendale church.

The court was told he would befriend members of the congregation and their children to build up a trust before abusing the boys, all aged between 6 and 13.

In one case he offered to act as mentor to a boy and give him religious tuition before his baptism.

During a series of lessons in the attic at Hoyle’s house, the former teacher at Burnley’s Whittlefield School would produce a doctor’s bag containing items including stethoscope, ruler and plastic hammer.

He would then persuade the boy to “play doctor” during which he would sexually abuse him.

The system of abuse continued in the same vein with the two other boys preyed upon by Hoyle, the court heard.

He was arrested in April by officers working on Lancashire Constabulary’s Operation Nevada inquiry.

At the time of his arrest he was working as a manager at a pharmacy in Bacup.

Hoyle, was asked to leave the baptist church in 1997 but now attends another church in Rossendale. The court heard there was no blame attached to his former church or the minister at the time of the offences and in fact the church had helped provide evidence leading to his arrest.

Richard Haworth, prosecuting, told the court: “The defendant used to help out at the church when one of the boys was due to be baptised and needed a mentor.

Hoyle offered to teach him and the boy went to his house after school one night a week for about an hour. The lessons would proceed quite normally for about 20 minutes before Hoyle would change tack and say: ‘We are going to play doctors’.”

He would then produce an assortment of things from a doctor’s bag and lay them on the table.”

Mr Haworth said Hoyle used the items to touch the boy and that the routine continued week after week until the classes ended.

June Morris, defending, said Hoyle had shown remorse and regret for his actions and said he wanted to apologise to his victims. She said he had gone to see a counsellor before his arrest in an attempt to address his offending.

Jailing Hoyle for two years and eight months Judge Pamela Badley said: “You gained the trust of these boys and then commenced a game called doctors.

“Not only was this inappropriate but you knew that by this devious method you would be able to touch them in a way that gratified you.

“This was a grave breach of trust and only a custodial sentence can be justified.”

She added that although she was unable to pass a disqualification order to stop Hoyle working with children again, she ordered him to be put on the Sex Offender’s Register for an indefinite period.

After the case Detective Inspector Keith Parker, who heads Operation Nevada, said: “A lot of hard work went into this operation which was a very difficult and sensitive case.

“I am pleased with the result both for the officers who worked on it and for the victims who can hopefully move on and find some sort of closure.”