March 2015

St Merryn man, 87, jailed for sexually assaulting three boys at boarding school

A ONE-LEGGED 87-year-old man from St Merryn has been jailed for four years after he admitted sexual offences against three young boys while he was working at a boarding school in the 1980s.

Peter Hancock, of Jasmin Way, gave his victims alcohol before touching them sexually, Truro Crown Court heard on Thursday.

At an earlier hearing, Hancock admitted three counts of indecent assault on three different underage boys in the early 1980s when he would have been in his mid-50s.

David Sapiecha, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said Hancock was employed as a house father at a boarding school at the time.

He said: “The Crown’s position has always been that this defendant was the house father responsible for their social lives, activities in school and their care.

“The boys, the prosecution say, were not complicit, they were compliant, inevitably, given the power that Mr Hancock had over them.”

Mr Sapiecha said Hancock invited pupils to his home and plied one boy, aged 15, with gin and tonic before telling him to lie on the bed and sleep it off.

The boy, now an adult, told police that he woke up to find Hancock touching him sexually and encouraging a second boy to join in.

That second boy, also a victim in the case, told police he enjoyed going to Hancock’s home to watch television and be away from the other pupils.

The court heard Hancock engaged in sexual activity with that 15-year-old on a number of occasions.

A third 15-year-old boy also reported being indecently assaulted by Hancock.

Rupert Taylor, for the defence, urged the judge to give Hancock credit for having the good sense and courage to plead guilty.

He said: “For a man who is almost 87, he is doing reasonably well [health-wise], despite the amputation of one leg.”

Of the victims, he added: “Their accounts have been believed, the court will act on those accounts and there will be punishment … that allowed some closure for those three people.”

Sentencing, Judge Christopher Harvey Clark, QC, said: “The boys at the school were, at least in some instances, particularly vulnerable.

“You were in a position of trust and you were responsible for the care of your pupils.”

Judge Harvey Clark said Hancock had given at least two of his victims with alcohol before abusing them sexually.

He said there was evidence that one of the victims had developed alcoholism, while another had gone on to commit sexual offences against children as a result of what Hancock had done.

“[He] learned from you that there were no moral or legal boundaries when it came to sexual activity with children.”

Hancock was jailed for four years.

Judge Harvey Clark added: “I trust that this sentence will bring closure to your unhappy victims.”