A FORMER teacher has been found guilty of groping four girls in a Chester primary school in the 1970s.
Alan Blakey, 72, of Bank Street, Portmahoma, Tain, Scotland, was found guilty by a jury of six counts of indecent assault dating back to the 1970s after a trial at Chester Crown Court. He was jailed for three years.
The assaults took place over a period of a year at Oldfield Primary School in Vicars Cross.
Prosecutor Matthew Corbett Jones told the court that Blakey had repeatedly touched two of the girls over a school year when he was their class teacher and touched the other two girls in other, isolated incidents.
Mr Corbett Jones said many of the offences took place when other pupils were present in the classroom during lessons and others had taken place in the store cupboard outside of lesson time.
Mr Corbett Jones said Blakey was “willing to take risks” by sexually assaulting the children, while other pupils were just a few feet away to fulfil his sexual desires.
During the trial the court heard about a previous conviction for indecent assault by Blakey which took place at the Oldfield Primary School which led to his sacking.
Blakey pleaded guilty in 1980 of indecently assaulting a girl by touching her leg and saying “You like this, don’t you?” while she was playing chess inside the store room with another pupil.
However during the trial, Blakey said he had simply tapped the girl on the leg when she had made a good move during a chess game and said “good move” and had been told to plead guilty because it was just a technical charge which had “no sexual motive”.
Defending, Alisdair Williamson, said the four women who had come forward after all these years to make the allegations had “invented them” and were looking for compensation.
Mr Williamson said at the time of Blakey’s sacking, there would have been “playground gossip” about what had happened.
He said: “If a teacher was sacked for a sexual offence, it would be the talk of the school.
“When children talk to each other they say the most extraordinary things, ‘Oh, he touched me as well’. And after decades, these playground conversations had become a reality for these women.”
During the trial, the court heard from all four of Blakey’s victims.
Giving evidence to the trial the first woman, and key witness, said she was repeatedly assaulted by Blakey when she went to read next to his desk during lessons. The woman told the court that when she was reading he would put his hand up her skirt.
She said that she didn’t tell her parents at the time it was happening because she felt “embarrassed” and she did not know it was wrong although she knew she “didn’t like it”.
The woman said as a result of the assaults she found it difficult to sit on her father’s knee and didn’t like him cuddling her because she thought he would also touch her.
The court heard that in 2010, the woman finally went to the police with the allegations but the police initially said they would not pursue the claims.
She then contacted her MP who asked the police to reconsider and they reopened the investigations.
During cross examination, defence barrister, Alisdair Williamson, challenged the woman and said she was trying to just get compensation. The woman said she had seen a solicitor about compensation but only after the police said they would not follow up her complaint.
Mr Williamson called the woman the “driving force behind the allegations” which the woman accepted – but said she was not driven by getting compensation.
The second woman initially spoke to police in 2012 and said she was also groped by Blakey a number of times when she went up to read during lessons.
She also said she was sometimes locked in the store room and then assaulted by Blakey and he said “You like that, don’t you?” to her on one occasion.
The third woman said she was only attacked by Blakey on one occasion. The woman told police in 2012, that she was going to ballet class and had accidentally put her costume on the wrong way round. Blakey offered to help her put it on again and took her into the store room where he “touched her between the legs”. The woman said she told a friend at the time but no one else because she was “ashamed” and “felt like it was my fault”.
The fourth woman was again, only attacked once. She said that Blakey had taken a PE session and afterwards had offered the children a chance to blow his whistle.
She told the court a number of children, including herself, sat on Blakey’s knee to blow the whistle and when she did he put his hand underneath her skirt and touched her.
She said she told her parents at the time but they did not believe her until Blakey was sacked for an incident of indecent assault.
Giving evidence, Blakey said he did not touch any of the girls during his time teaching at Oldfield Primary School. He told the court he had previously taught at a school in Helsby which he enjoyed but when he taught in Vicars Cross he did not enjoy it because the class size was “too big” with over 35 students.
When asked about his previous conviction for sexual assault, Blakey denied he had touched the girl for sexual gratification and maintained that he thought he was pleaded guilty to technical charge which would “draw a line” under the incident.
However the jury, of four women and eight men, took just three and a half hours to find him unanimously guilty on all counts of indecent assault.
During sentencing, Judge Elgan Edwards, the Recorder of Chester, told Blakey he had committed a “serious breach of trust”. He said: “When these girls were in your care, when you were supposed to be teaching them, you were sexually abusing them.
“It is a most serious breach of the trust placed in you.”
Judge Edwards told the court Blakey would have to be sentenced on the guidelines of when the offences took place which meant there was a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Judge Edwards said he had taken into account Blakey’s age and the fact that he had not committed any other offences since his conviction in 1980.
Blakey was sentenced to a total of three years in prison, told to sign the sex offenders register for life and told he would never be able to work as a teacher again.
See full story in the Chester Leader