Body in sea thought to be child porn teacher

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The Independent Online
A Body believed to be that of Adrian Stark, the public school teacher charged last week with possessing child pornography, was found in the sea yesterday near one of Britain's most notorious suicide spots.

The car belonging to Mr Stark, the director of music at St John's School, Leatherhead, had earlier been found abandoned on top of the 550ft cliffs at Beachy Head, near Eastbourne, Sussex.

Mr Stark, 33, had not been seen since Wednesday when he was charged by police and released on bail pending further inquiries. A police spokesman said: "We have found Mr Starks's car and we are trying to identify the body of a man found in the sea by coastguards."

The state of the body was consistent with a fall from the Beachy Head cliffs, he said.

David Corke, the coxswain of the Eastbourne lifeboat who helped to recover the body, said: "We believe it may have been in the water for a couple of days."

The grim discovery followed a public appeal from Surrey police, who are carrying out the investigation into the pornography allegations, about the whereabouts of Mr Stark. Police had said they were concerned for his welfare.

His Volvo was eventually found abandoned at Beachy Head at 4am yesterday. Yesterday afternoon the body was seen by a motorcruiser two miles out to sea east of Eastbourne.

Mr Stark, who was single, had been arrested after officers found pornographic material at a property in the Surrey school grounds, and was charged with three counts of possessing indecent photographs of children.

He joined the school in 1995 from Hurstpierpoint School in West Sussex. Hurstpierpoint hit the headlines last year when the school chaplain, the Reverend Brian Boucher, and a junior science teacher, Trevor Jones, were sacked after being cautioned by police for possessing child pornography.

Officers from Burgess Hill seized items from the men's living quarters at the Sussex school after reportedly acting on a tip-off from police investigating a paedophile ring in Eastern Europe.

Hurstpierpoint School and police emphasised that none of the pornographic material was connected with children at the co-educational school.

Yesterday a spokesman for Sussex Police said colleagues in Surrey had not asked for information about its inquiry into Hurstpierpoint College in 1995.

The spokesman said: "As far as I am aware, there was no suggestion at the time that any other persons were involved in that investigation."

Governors of pounds 8,000-a-year St John's, who suspended Mr Stark from his post on the day of his arrest, met yesterday morning. "We will be writing to all parents to update them of the situation," said the bursar, Christopher Pelley. "The police are keeping us in the picture as to their search. But Mr Stark has not been seen at the school since he was arrested and he has not been at his bail address."

St John's School was founded in 1851 in north London to educate sons of the clergy, and moved to Leatherhead in 1872. St John's has 395 boys, including 100 boarders, and 45 girls in its sixth form. Fees last year were pounds 3,700 a term for boarders and pounds 2,550 for day pupils.

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