England

Nick Clegg's ex-headmaster jailed for abusing boys

Roland Peter Wright is led away from court in Amersham Image copyright South beds news agency
Image caption Wright was led away from court in Amersham after his sentencing

The former headmaster of a school attended by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has been jailed for eight years for sexually abusing five pupils.

Roland Peter Wright, 83, of Farnham Royal, Buckinghamshire, abused boys aged between eight and 13 at Caldicott Preparatory School from 1959 to 1970.

His sentencing went ahead despite the death of another former teacher who had been due to appear with him.

Hugh Henry, 82, apparently threw himself under a train on Tuesday.

'Old and infirm'

Judge Johannah Cutts QC told Wright: "These offences were so serious that it is beyond question that only a custodial sentence can be justified.

"I have to sentence you for multiple offending against each of these victims.

"This was prolonged activity, the boys were groomed by a master at a school responsible for their care."

Mr Clegg was a pupil at the school from 1974 until 1980 and was joint head boy in his final year.

When Wright was convicted in December, Mr Clegg said: "I am shocked and appalled by the gross betrayal of trust and violation of childhood innocence that has been shown to have taken place at Caldicott."

Wright, who served as headmaster at the school for 25 years, lived in a cottage overlooking the school playing fields after his retirement in 1993.

At his trial last year, Amersham Crown Court was told Wright was the centre of a paedophile ring at the school.

Image copyright South beds news agency
Image caption Roland Peter Wright was headmaster at Caldicott Preparatory School for 25 years

He was described by his barrister Jane Bickerstaff QC as "old, frail and infirm".

She said: "Everything he worked so hard to build up. The reputation of the school and its success, which went hand in hand with the defendant's personal reputation and achievements, is all wiped out by the verdicts of the jury.

"His legacy is entirely different - that is the hardest blow to a man who dedicated his life to building the school and its reputation."

'Charismatic and charming'

In jailing him, Judge Cutts said: "I heard evidence that you were an inspirational teacher, both of French and of rugby. You taught French and also coached sport, predominantly, rugby.

"You were clearly charismatic and charming to boys and parents alike but there was a darker side to your tuition of these boys.

"Boys craved your attention and strove for your praise. From those, you picked out boys for your individual sexual attentions."

His bedsit was next to the senior boys' dormitory allowing him to "set up your own little fiefdom and use it to abuse boys".

The jury heard that on more than one occasion Wright and Hugh Henry went into the senior boys' dormitory after lights out when they had been drinking alcohol.

The judge said that she was satisfied Wright's offending came to an end after he became headmaster, moved out of his bedsit next to the dormitories and got married.

"It seems your new role, marital status and residence brought these offences to an end."

'Public abhorrence'

During the trial, evidence of abuse was also heard from other men who had been part of a trial brought against Wright in 2003 relating to further claims of abuse in the 1960s.

That trial was stayed.

Another former teacher, John Addrison, 54, from Slough, was convicted of child sexual offences at Caldicott and sentenced to five years jail in 2012. A fourth teach was acquitted.

A statement from the school said: "Caldicott shares the public abhorrence that adults in a position of trust and responsibility at the school abused children in their care during the 1960s and 1970s.

"We apologise fully both to those who gave evidence of their abuse and to any others who might have been reluctant to come forward.

"Thirty years on, Caldicott is now a very different school ... our policies are fully in line with current legal requirements and these policies, which were developed with guidance from police and child protection regulators, are constantly being updated in conjunction with changes in the law."

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