Former headteacher convicted of abusing boys

A former boarding school head was today facing a lengthy jail term after being convicted of abusing boys during the 1970s and 1980s.

Derek Slade, 61, of Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, was convicted of more than 50 offences and will be sentenced on Monday.

A jury at Ipswich Crown Court found him guilty of sexually assaulting and beating boys between 1978 and 1983 at private schools in Wicklewood, Norfolk, and Great Finborough, Suffolk.

Slade was convicted of abusing 12 boys aged between eight and 13.

He had admitted assault, indecent assault and child pornography offences. He denied other allegations of assault and indecent assault but was found guilty after a month-long trial.

He admitted being a paedophile and told jurors there was a sexual motive behind the corporal punishment he would inflict. But he denied allegations of more serious sexual assaults, including prosecution allegations that he hosted "midnight feasts" at which boys would be abused.

Jurors heard that Slade committed offences at St George's School, which was initially based in Wicklewood and then moved to Great Finborough in 1980.

The court heard that Oxford-educated Slade, who has no teaching qualifications, set up the school with colleagues.

Prosecutors said Slade hit boys with a slipper, a table tennis bat or his bare hand and then ordered youngsters to write about "whackings I have had".

Detectives found dozens of the essays, along with photographs of boys, at Slade's home, the court was told.

Police also found graphic stories of child sex abuse accompanied by hand-drawn images. Slade said the stories were "sexual fantasies".

Slade was arrested after former pupils made complaints two years ago. One victim said he had never told his parents what had happened. Another described Slade's assaults as "reigns of terror".

St George's had been in the spotlight in 1982 when a BBC radio programme reported on its harsh regime, the court heard.