Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Retired teacher Timothy Bleach jailed for pupils' rape

Timothy Bleach Image copyright Hampshire Constabulary
Image caption Timothy Bleach was told he would not be considered for parole until he has served half of his 20 year sentence.

A retired teacher convicted of serious sexual assaults against 11 girls during the 1970s has been jailed for 20 years.

Timothy Bleach, 76, attacked girls aged between eight and 11 while he worked at Weyford Junior School in Bordon, Hampshire, between 1973 and 1980.

Passing sentence, Judge Roger Hetherington said Bleach's victims suffered "real psychological damage".

He was convicted of 56 offences including rapes, indecent assaults and acts of gross indecency.

Bleach, of Hazel Walk, Petersfield, raped one girl on no fewer than 10 occasions and another at least three times.

Image caption The offences took place while Bleach was a teacher at Weyford Junior School in Bordon

Hampshire Police received the first complaint against him in 2014 from a woman who had watched a BBC report on the force's work on historical sex crimes.

During a five-week trial at Portsmouth Crown Court, the jury was told Bleach attacked pupils in a school store cupboard, in classrooms and at some of their homes.

Judge Hetherington said Bleach took advantage of the girls' "innocence and trusting nature", in some cases assaulting them in front of other pupils and on other occasions at his home where he gave piano lessons.

"You used the cover of teaching, and the respect accorded to that profession, to pursue your predilection," he added.

The court heard he continued to offend after moving to Africa - raping a schoolgirl in Zambia.

Hampshire police said his victims - now women in their 40s - showed "remarkable bravery and courage" in coming forward to give evidence.

Det Insp Jim Park said: "Mr Bleach - a teacher, and as such a man entrusted to safeguard children - abused his position of trust over and over again by committing these awful acts."

Bleach showed little emotion as he was sentenced. He will not be considered for parole until he has served half of his 20 year sentence.

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