February 1999

Teacher jailed for sex abuse; Assaults followed training

A PHYSICAL education teacher, jailed yesterday for a year after having been found guilty of sexually abusing two teenage boys in an after-school weight training class, was one of the country’s most successful coaches of young Scottish athletes.

Seven years after having been acquitted on similar, but not proven, charges at a Clydebank school, John Tonner, 47, was sentenced at Airdrie Sheriff Court on three charges of lewd and libidinous behaviour towards two pupils at the Cumbernauld school to which he had subsequently moved.

Sheriff Ian Simpson, who said the teacher had abused his position, told him: “The jury, in December, convicted you of crimes of a very serious nature.

December 1998

Top coach sexually abused two boys

A LEADING athletics coach’s career was in ruins yesterday after he was found guilty of sexually abusing two teenage boys. 

John Tonner rubbed cream on one 14-year-old’s private parts after taking him to his school room and telling him to strip to his underwear. 

The 47-year-old PE teacher had told the boy the cream would help a muscle strain he had suffered in his back while taking part in a school weight- training class. 

A jury took just over one-and-a half hours to deliver a guilty verdict at Airdrie Sheriff Court yesterday. 

As it was read out, Tonner of Southfield, near Slamannan, Stirlingshire, sat impassively in the dock while members of his family on the public benches openly sobbed. 

Sheriff Ian Simpson told him: “You have been convicted of crimes that will carry serious consequences. 

“On any view they represent a substantial breach of trust.” 

Andrew Gibb, defending, said: “The consequences of this verdict will be catastrophic for both his employment and his registration as a teacher.” 

Tonner, who has been suspended by Lanarkshire Council since the allegations were made in January, was given bail until he’s sentenced on January 13.