Owner of York boarding school Queen Ethelburga's jailed for historical sexual abuse of pupils

The owner of a boarding school near York who preyed on vulnerable students has been jailed for three years for historical sexual abuse of two pupils.

Brian Richard Martin, 71, the owner of Queen Ethelburga's School, has been jailed for three years and three months Photo: North Yorkshire Police

Brian Richard Martin, 71, owns Queen Ethelburga’s School, which is in Thorpe Underwood and has both boarding and day pupils.

Martin, of Ferrensby, Knaresborough, was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court yesterday to three years and three months after he was convicted of sexual assault of a male student in the late 2000s after a retrial first put before a jury in 2018.

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Police said Martin exploited his role of trust at the school to prey on vulnerable pupils for his "own sinister gains".

He was also found guilty of indecent assault on a girl in the early-to-mid 1990s at another retrial held in 2019.

Martin, who served as chair of governors at the school, has been placed on the Sex Offenders Register.

At his original trial in 2018, Martin was acquitted of six other child sexual abuse offences.

The bravery of the survivors of Martin’s abuse has been paid tribute to by police after they gave evidence that secured Martin's conviction.

Detective Sergeant Graeme Bevington, who led the North Yorkshire Police investigation, said: “Brian Martin was a well-respected member of society and a successful businessman. It was due to his success as a businessman that he was able to purchase Queen Ethelburga’s School which he moved from Harrogate to the Thorpe Underwood Estate where he lived with his family.

“The students who attended the school considered it to be safe and family oriented, and Brian Martin was a key figure at the school.

“Despite significant investment being made in the school, all this served to do was to create an environment that Martin could exploit for his own sinister gains.

“He preyed on the vulnerability of the students and was able to manipulate circumstances which allowed him to sexually abuse two children who were boarding students and therefore isolated from their families.

“The school was supposed to be a safe place for the victims, and they should have been able to trust all adults and staff at the school.

“They could not have possibly conceived that it would be at this supposed safe place where they would be harmed so significantly by someone in a position of trust.”

DS Bevington added: “The bravery shown by the victims in this case to speak out against their abuser cannot be praised highly enough.

“They have had to give evidence in open court about the most vulnerable and traumatic experiences of their lives and re-live the dreadful abuse that was forced upon them many years ago when they were just children.

“The courage and conviction behind their evidence has led to Brian Martin being publicly exposed as the predatory paedophile that he really is.

“They have finally had justice for what they have had to endure for so long.”

Queen Ethelburga's was approached for comment by the Yorkshire Post.

If you have been a victim of child abuse, please contact North Yorkshire Police on 101. If you are in immediate danger, always dial 999 for an emergency response

Victims who would prefer not to go direct to the police and are not in immediate danger, can contact Bridge House, North Yorkshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), on 0330 223 0362, email [email protected] or go to www.bridgehousesarc.org/