Peter Burr arriving at Hove Crown Court
A RETIRED public school teacher was brought to justice for sexually abusing pupils, after a victim revealed his ordeal to Vanessa Feltz’s radio show.
Peter Burr was jailed for four years at Hove Crown Court yesterday after admitting nine counts of indecently assaulting four boys aged 11 to 14 at Christ’s Hospital School in Horsham, between 1969 and 1973.
One of the victims tried to report the crimes to officers at Horsham Police Station in 2000 but felt he was being “batted back” and no further action was taken, prosecutor Ahmed Hossain said.
It was not until December 3 2016 that the victim was prompted to email the producer of Feltz’s BBC Radio London programme when she discussed the football abuse scandal.
The producer put him in touch with detectives and an investigation was launched after he made contact with police in February last year.
Burr, 73, is the leading public school’s second former teacher to be jailed in as many months in separate prosecutions.
Judge Christine Henson said he had demonstrated a “gross abuse of trust” and preyed on vulnerable boys who were reluctant to speak out after they had been given a place at the school because a parent had died or their family had a low income.
Dressed in a dark jumper and striped shirt, Burr, of Kingswear, near Dartmouth, Devon, looked at the floor as details of his crimes were read to the court.
He invited pupils to visit his study for tea and cake and to watch television before fondling them.
One victim described how Burr enticed them with chocolate biscuits.
The house tutor and physics teacher, who was responsible for patrolling bathrooms and dormitories, also became sexually aroused when he played with boys in the swimming pool, Mr Hossain said.
Founded in the 16th century, Christ’s Hospital charges boarders up to £31,500 a year and counts Sir Barnes Wallis, inventor of the bouncing bomb, and poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge as alumni.
Pupils still wear a Tudor-style uniform consisting of a long blue coat and high yellow socks.
One of the victims described the school at the time of Burr’s offences as having a “culture of corporal punishment” where pupils were told they were privileged to be attending, Mr Hossain said.
One victim said he felt confined to a life of celibacy as a result of Burr’s actions.
Burr, who arrived late to the hearing, was initially sentenced to three and a half years, but Judge Henson increased the term, saying she had said 42 months by mistake instead of 48 months.
He was also made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order.
Four other charges of indecent assault which he denied were left to lie on file.
Detective Inspector Wendy Burton said the victim who was on Feltz’s show did not tell officers about his previous contact with police and they could find “no record of his making contact or reporting any allegations in 2000”.
She said the case was investigated fully in 2017 and wanted to tell victims that allegations are taken seriously.
Christ’s Hospital School headteacher Simon Reid said: “The victim testimony heard at Hove Crown Court at the sentencing of former teacher, Peter Burr, could have left no-one in any doubt as to the devastating and lasting impact of his actions.
“While these offences date back to the period 1969–1973 and the school now provides the safest possible environment for its students, we will not shy away from continuing to challenge ourselves on every aspect of child protection.
“The thoughts of everyone at Christ’s Hospital School are very much with the victims in this case.”
Source: The Argus