May 2021

Paedophile sentenced to nine years

An 80-year-old paedophile who abused boys he was supposed to care for has been jailed for sex offences dating to the 1980s.

Richard Groome, now of Taunton, Somerset, sexually assaulted a vulnerable boy while he was working in a senior role at a boarding school in south Shropshire more than 30 years ago.

The boy had been sent to the school in Shropshire having had a difficult relationship with his family and being put into care.

He had enjoyed his time there and began developing socially before being victimised by Groome, Shrewsbury Crown Court heard.

His crimes went undiscovered, but in the year 2000 at Chester Crown Court he was convicted of unrelated but similar indecent assaults against three teenage boys, those offences also dating to the 1980s but before the Shropshire offence.

He was jailed for eight years in 2000 but it wasn’t until 2017 that he would be interviewed by police in connection with the assaults on the boy in Shropshire.

He denied any wrongdoing and the matter finally came to trial earlier this year. Groome was convicted by a jury of two charges of indecent assault and another serious sexual offence against the boy.

Judge Anthony Lowe told him: “One struggles to imagine a worse type of abuse of trust, where somebody is in your de facto care because they are troubled and have problems, and they are then taken advantage of.

“At the time he was somebody who was struggling to come to terms with his various problems. [At the school] he seemed to have the potential for making some considerable improvements in the way he was developing.”

But Groome’s abuse “effectively destroyed any positive work being done” and was “perverse in every sense of that word”, the judge said.

Prosecutor Mr Graham Russell told the court that the victim attributes his drug abuse problems, paranoia and stress to the abuse he suffered. He constantly worries for the welfare of his own children, the court heard.

The judge handed down a nine-year prison sentence, of which Groome will serve two thirds before being released on licence.