Former Blackburn teacher jailed for sexually assaulting pupils

Shamed former teacher John Mead who is starting a 3-year jail sentence

Shamed former teacher John Mead who is starting a 3-year jail sentence

First published in News
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Blackburn Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Crime reporter

THE victim of a teacher who indecently assaulted three boys on school trips has criticised his three-year jail term as too ‘lenient’.

The man was one of three boys who was attacked by John Mead while they were pupils at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Blackburn in the 1970s.

The former pupil, who said the abuse had affected his whole life, travelled thousands of miles from abroad to give evidence at the 76-year-old’s trial.

During the case it emerged Mead, of Sabden, who claimed he was a victim of the ‘Jimmy Savile effect’, had a ‘sinister motive’ for taking the boys away on camping holidays.

The victim, who is now in his 50s, said: “I am concerned about the apparent leniency of this sentence. It falls short of justice for those victims who have already suffered, and continue to suffer, a lengthy sentence as a result of this individual.”

Mead, a former maths and music teacher who was described as a ‘predatory paedophile’, was found guilty by a jury of four counts of indecently assaulting three boys under the age of 14 following a five-day trial at Preston Crown Court.

The court heard how he would regularly take groups of boys on trips to youth hostels.

During one of the trips, Mead got into bed with one of the boys who had been chosen to sleep in a room alone. During the night, his teacher sneaked into the dormitory before reaching over and touching him inappropriately.

Another boy was assaulted by Mead, of Timbrills Avenue, during a game of 'monsters in the dark' in which his teacher grabbed him, pulled him onto the bed and groped him.

And a third complainant was indecently assaulted on multiple occasions when Mead got into the shower with him. The youngster ended up abusing alcohol to cope with what happened to him.

Mead had always maintained he was innocent and blamed the allegations on the ‘Jimmy Savile effect’, accusing his victims of only coming forward 40 years later because of what they had seen about the TV personality in the media.

Judge Christopher Cornwall, sentencing Mead, dismissed the claims, saying that while the defendant’s career ‘progressed with distinction’, the boys’ lives had been destroyed.

He told the defendant: “You suggest you have been set up by the unscrupulous victims. I utterly and without reservation reject what you say in this regard.

“This is not the Jimmy Savile effect as you understand it. Savile died in October 2011 and it was only after that allegations began to be made about his sexual misconduct during his life time.

“The first complaint to the police about you was nine years before Jimmy Savile died.

“I wholly understand that these allegations coming four decades after the event have completely devastated you.

“You believed it had all been buried without trace. But justice comes limping along.”

The judge was told how Mead suffers from myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, and depression meaning he would ‘cope extremely badly’ in prison.

But the married father-of-three was told by Judge Cornwall that he could not justify a sentence a day shorter than three years.

He said: “This is a truly terrible case.

“It is not just the fact that each boy at the time was as young as he was, it is not just the fact that each boy and his parents placed an implicit trust in the school and you to behave properly. It is the fact each one felt he had no realistic alternative to accepting in silence what you had done to them.”

One of the victims said he believed the prison term should be longer to reflect the long-term effect his actions had on the pupils.

The man, speaking after the case, said: “The word historic was used to describe Mead's crimes. For his victims, however, the consequences are lifelong.

"Mead is a predatory paedophile, a sociopath. The nature of such behaviour is that it is remorseless, repetitive and chronic.

“Given his blatant sexual interest in boys, it seems impossible that other adults, including those in positions of responsibility, were unaware of what was happening.”

Another victim, also in his 50s, has previously said: “I was terrified. I was disgusted. But I just let it happen, I just froze.

“This is what I have never been able to come to terms with.”

As well as the jail term, Mead will be subject to notification requirements for life and a sexual offences prevention order until further notice.

Speaking after the hearing, DS Julie Cross, from the public protection unit, said: “I am pleased with the custodial sentence handed down to Mead and I hope it brings some closure to his victims so that they start to move on with their lives.

“We are committed to investigating all allegations of this nature thoroughly and sensitively. Anyone who has been the victim of similar offences can contact us and be confident that we will listen to them and investigate in a similarly measured way. ”

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