May 2012

Halifax ex-teacher given suspended sentence for sex attacks on pupils

Alan Birkby

A PERVERT teacher who indecently assaulted his young male pupils has walked free from court.

Alan Birkby, 68, of Ryburn Buildings, Sowerby Bridge, was given a 16 month suspended sentence at Bradford Crown Court.

Birkby pleaded to nine counts of indecent assault and a further three counts of indecency with a child during his time as a teacher at Parkinson Lane Primary School, Halifax, between January 1972 and January 1981.

The court heard that the disgusting series of offences related to six boys who were aged between seven and 11 at the time.

But he was able to walk free with just a suspended sentence as Judge Colin Burn was forced to senetence him according to guidelines at the time of the offending.

Addressing the length of sentence Judge Burn said: “I have to sentence you against the background of the prevailing sentencing regime at the time of committing these offences and as a school teacher who has recently retired due to a mental breakdown.”

Prosecutor Hilary Manley described Birkby’s behaviour and his penchant for boys in short trousers – he would even be angry with boys who didn’t wear shorts.

“One of the complainants recalls having to walk up to the front of the class,” she said. “The defendant would put his hand on the inside of his leg and rub up and down.

Similar activity took place with the other boys with Birkby caressing their testicles through their shorts.

On one occasion he took boys into a storeroom and made them strip down to their underwear while he stroked and hugged them.

Judge Burn, sentencing, said: “The offences are many and various, as are the victims, in this case.

“These were pupils who looked to you as their teacher to teach and instruct them. To safeguard them and provide an example for them.

“On a significant number of occasions and with a number of pupils you failed to do that.

“When they sought distance or to avoid you, you could become unpleasant to them and even intimidating.

“You took advantage of your position as their teacher.”

The judge told the court that victim impact statements showed that the victims, now all in their 40s, had suffered long standing effects.

Speaking after the verdict, one of Birkby’s victims told the Courier of his frustration that Birkby had avoided jail.

“I’m disappointed with the sentence. It would have been good to know that that man was going to prison.”

He said it was the judicial system that had tied the judge’s hands.

“Credit to the police, they couldn’t have done any more,” he said. “And the judge wanted to give him more.

“He was in a position of trust, he was a teacher.”

On top of the 16 month suspended sentence Birkby was made subject to a sexual offences preventino order and oredered to pay £800 in prosecution costs.

Detective Insp Gail Lawrie, head of Calderdale’s District Safeguarding Unit, said: “As a teacher Birkby had a responsibility for the welfare and safety of children in his care.

“Primary school years are key to the development of all children and should be a place where they feel safe and secure.

“Sadly Birkby chose to abuse his position of trust and devastated the lives of his victims for his own sexual gratification.

“I would like to commend the bravery of those who had the courage and confidence to come forward and work with Police to help bring Birkby to justice. We hope the sentence passed today will go some way towards helping his victims to deal with the trauma he has caused them.

“All allegations against a teacher or other professional working with children are always thoroughly investigated by specialist officers who work in partnership to ensure victims are fully supported.”