Ex-teacher sentenced for sex offences

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A FORMER teacher at a West Yorkshire primary school has been given a suspended jail sentence for sexually abusing six young boys nearly 40 years ago.

Alan Birkby, of Ryburn Buildings, Sowerby Bridge, carried out the abuse while he was working at the Parkinson Lane Infants and Junior School in Halifax between January 1972 and January 1981.

A judge at Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday how Birkby, now 68, preferred boys to wear shorts in his class and would rub some of his victims on the leg and thigh when they brought work to his desk for marking.

Prosecutor Hilary Manley said Birkby, who was described by one victim as a strict disciplinarian, indecently touched other boys over their underwear.

Two of Birkby’s victims had originally complained to the police in 2001, but Miss Manley said the defendant denied any wrongdoing and no further action was taken.

After further complaints were made, Birkby arrested again in April 2010 but he still maintained that he had done nothing wrong. It was not until March this year that he finally admitted offences of indecent assault and indecency with a child.

Judge Colin Burn read impact statements from four of Birkby’s victims, but he pointed out that he had to sentence the defendant as if he was dealing with matters back in the 1970s and early 1980s.

The judge told Birkby, who retired from teaching in the early 1980s after a mental breakdown, the pupils had looked to him to safeguard them and be an example, but he had set a very bad example and had taken advantage of his position as a teacher.

Judge Burn said the victims wanted Birkby to go to prison for a long time, but he had to sentence him against the background of the prevailing sentencing regime at the time of the offences. He added the public could be safeguarded by an indefinite sexual offences prevention order which restricts any unsupervised contact with children under 16 and a requirement for Birkby to register as a sex offender for the next 10 years.

Birkby was sentenced to 10 months in jail for the indecent assaults, suspended for two years, with a concurrent term of six months for the indecency with a child offences. He must also pay £800 costs.