Former PE teacher jailed over child sex offences

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Justice finally caught up with a former PE teacher today as he was jailed for abusing young girls more than 30 years ago.

Keith Fletcher, 57, admitted 24 offences - which date back to 1975, and include indecent assault and attempted buggery.

York Crown Court was told Fletcher was highly regarded as a teacher and coach.

However, the court was told he was flattered by the attention he received from the teenage girls as a newly qualified teacher who was "young and handsome".

The court was told he would take the girls back to his flat and abuse them for his own sexual gratification.

One one occasion he persuaded two of his victims to come back to his flat where he made them touch each other intimately. On other occasions he used whips, belts and restraints.

The court was told three of the girls were pupils at the Scarborough secondary school where he was employed, although he never taught any of them.

He was sacked when the allegations came to light.

Judge Christopher Batty said it was a "sad day" to see Fletcher in the dock, as he was a "highly regarded member of the community, very impressive sports coach and someone in the community loved very dearly".

He jailed him for two years and nine months and ordered him to sign the sex offenders' register. He was also placed on a Sexual Offences Prevention order which severely restricts his contact with young women.

He told him: "You did not give a jot about these girls, who were young, naive, they were simply impressionable.

"As a teacher, even a 22-year-old, you had responsibilities for the welfare of your pupils and the welfare of children generally.

"You were young and you were a position of responsibility and respect.

"You had your own desires and they came first. You abused your position of trust and you offended time and time again."

Fletcher, of Hampton Road, Scarborough, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to 24 child sex charges.

The charges relate to offences against four girls under the age of 16 and took place between 1975 and 1984.

His first victim was aged 15 and met the defendant in a pub where she was drinking with a friend. She went back to his flat where they had sex.

The second victim was also aged 15 and would run errands for Fletcher. The court was told rumours of the relationship reached the school and the couple were challenged about it. The victim was told to deny everything apart from running errands for Fletcher, the court was told.

The relationship involved Fletcher using a belt and whip on his young victim as well as restraints. The victim "thought they had a future together", the court was told.

The third victim was just 13 when he met her. He eventually took the girl's virginity when she turned 15 and also whipped her during sex.

The fourth victim was groped at a school disco in which Fletcher was helping out selling drinks on a stall. It was her complaint which triggered the police investigation.

Two of the victims attended today's sentencing. Although the sexual activity was consensual, the court was told the abuse had left the women feeling "significantly traumatised", made worse by the fact that they would often see the defendant around town.

The court was told the victims suffered from emotional and mental problems and one of them self-harmed.

In mitigation, Simon Reevell said there was no coercion involved and he said his client did not set out to act as a criminal.

He added: "He did not stop and appreciate he was older, he was an adult.

"It was his inability to recognise that these girls had simply to be ignored.

"He behaved with them as if they were his age. It was an inability to realise this. It was entirely inappropriate because of their age."