TV WEATHERMAN Fred Talbot has been jailed for five years for indecently assaulting two schoolboys when he was a teacher.
Talbot, 65, a regular on the floating weather map in Liverpool’s Albert Dock for ITV’s top rating This Morning show, was described at his trial as a “chancer” who used his “boundless energy” and “extrovert personality” to gain the affection and trust of his victims.
Talbot, who was cleared of assaulting three other boys, was sentenced by Judge Timothy Mort at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court.
The judge told Talbot: “You deliberately and indecently assaulted the two of them for your own gratification.”
Talbot, who sat in the dock wearing glasses and a purple jumper over a shirt and grey trousers, showed no emotion as he was jailed.
He appeared relaxed as he entered the dock and acknowledged people in the packed courtroom.
Suzanne Goddard QC, defending, said there was little that could be said in mitigation.
She said Talbot had lost a stone in weight during his time in custody but was “accustoming himself” to life in jail.
Ms Goddard said: “He knows he must now receive a custodial sentence. He has come to terms with that.”
The jury at last month’s trial heard that Talbot was “obsessed” with teenage boys throughout his teaching career and “could not help himself” around them when under the influence of drink.
Among the prosecution witnesses at the trial were The Stone Roses’ singer Ian Brown who said Talbot gave masturbation practice as homework.
Prosecutors said Talbot’s modus operandi was to first establish his “good guy credentials” and then to break down the proper teacher-pupil boundaries, leaving his victims confused as he made his advances.
Talbot, of Bowdon, Greater Manchester, was convicted of two counts of indecent assault in relation to two complainants and cleared of eight counts of indecent assault in relation to three other complainants.
Four of the complainants were teenage pupils at Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, where Talbot taught biology, while the other attended a high school in Gateshead when the defendant was at teacher training college.
The science teacher denied anything sexual or even inappropriate occurred between himself and the Altrincham pupils, while he said sexual activity with the Gateshead complainant only happened when the boy turned 16.
Both of Talbot’s victims were assaulted on school canal barge trips in the Cheshire area in the mid 1970s.
The first victim, who thought he was 14 at the time, said the teacher abused him after a mock naked orgy involving up to 10 boys and Talbot.
Talbot told him to share a bed with him as there were not enough bunk beds to go round and performed a sex act on him.
It emerged that he had previously reported the weatherman to police on four separate occasions dating back to 1992 but no action had been taken.
The second victim, who also thought he may have been aged 14 at the time, was abused on another barge trip in similar circumstances.
He said that boys would take turns to sleep in Talbot’s bed during the trip and when it was his turn the defendant “started talking to me about sexual stuff” before indecently assaulting him.
The complainant said when he was aged in his late 20s he wrote to ITV Granada to tell them Talbot had abused him.
The court heard that Talbot’s teaching career came to “an abrupt end” in May 1984 following an indecent proposal he made to two pupils at his home.
He offered his bed for the night to the 15-year-old boys and said to them: “Make sure you leave room for me in the middle.”
Following the verdicts, it can be reported that a number of similar complaints against Talbot about offences said to have been committed in Scotland have been passed by police to the Procurator Fiscal.
Edinburgh-born Talbot moved at the age of seven to Sale, Greater Manchester, and later studied A-levels at Sale Grammar School.
After a spell at teacher training college in the Newcastle area he joined Altrincham Grammar School in 1974.
He resigned in disgrace in 1984 and went into television a short time later, with one of his first jobs on a Saturday morning children’s show.
The investigation was triggered in December 2012 following publicity into a separate historic abuse inquiry at another Altrincham school, St Ambrose College, which led to a nine-year jail term for ex-teacher Alan Morris.
Judge Mort told Talbot: “You are a man of 65 with no previous convictions. You have been convicted by a jury from clear evidence of indecently assaulting two boys when you were a teacher.”
The judge outlined the offences and Talbot’s background as a teacher.
He said Talbot’s approach to teaching was “different” and “less formal” than other staff members at the school and described him as a “popular” teacher.
He said he may have taken pupils on as many as 38 trips and told Talbot the offences he had been convicted of were not isolated incidents.
Judge Mort said: “You had, on other occasions, abused your position to offend.”
The judge said both victims had been affected by the abuse by Talbot, with one suffering from mental health issues since the incident.
One of the victims made repeated complaints about Talbot to police before he was charged.
Judge Mort said aggravating features included the degree of planning of the offences, the use of alcohol on the victims and the abuse of trust.
He said: “You calculated the boys would be too confused, guilt-ridden or embarrassed to disclose what happened.”
Judge Mort sentenced Talbot to two and a half years for each offence, to run consecutively.
He said he would serve half his sentence before being considered for release on licence.
Detective Chief Inspector Graham Brock, of Greater Manchester Police, said Talbot “orchestrated” the situations with the boys to “satisfy his own sexual urges”.
Speaking outside court, Mr Brock said: “Fred Talbot is a likeable man, however there is a devious element to him.
“He clearly orchestrated these situations to satisfy his own sexual urges and put himself in these positions with these young boys.”
The detective added: “On behalf of the two victims, I am sure they will be delighted they have received just reward and be happy with this verdict.
“At long last Fred has received the punishment he deserves.”
Mr Brock added in a statement: “You can imagine the excitement of a teenage boy setting off on a canal trip with friends and a teacher, who he should expect to look after him, only to return with his childhood destroyed.
“Put simply, these offences reflect an abhorrent abuse of trust by a man who has proven to have no regard for the innocence of youth he was employed to nurture.”