May 2009

Teacher jailed for using child as his ‘sexual plaything’

A retired assistant headteacher who used a young girl as his ‘sexual plaything’ has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Paul Slater – who worked at Harrowden Middle School, Bedford until this year – subjected the youngster to three years of abuse starting when she was just seven years old.

At Oxford Crown Court on Friday 59-year-old Slater (pictured above) was told he was a paedophile who had poisoned the girl’s life.

The judge heard that during the early 1990s, Slater preyed on the vulnerable girl while they were alone together, touching her sexually.

Prosecuting Jamie De Burgos said: “It progressed and continued to happen regularly.” 

During Slater’s trial at Northampton Crown Court last month jurors heard how the girl did not initially realise Slater’s actions were wrong.

After the NSPCC visited her school to give a talk she asked him to stop, which he did.

A few years later she confronted him and he told her that he was only doing what she wanted him to.

The girl, now 25, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was not a pupil of Slater’s.

Maxine Krone, defending, said: “He worked as a teacher for 28 years with an unblemished record working with children.

“In the main he was a gentle, caring and compassionate man and when asked to stop he did and it never happened again.

“In the last 16 years no further allegations have been made despite the fact he continued in education.

He does not accept his guilt.” Sentencing Slater, Judge Thomas Corrie said: “The fact is you have poisoned her life and caused her significant emotional damage.” 

Slater, of Holly Road, Rushden, Northants, was also put on the sexual offenders’ register for life and banned from working with children under 16.

He was also banned from being in the same room as any girl under the age of 16, unless supervised.

Speaking after the sentencing, Slater’s victim said: “I don’t think people appreciate how much it affects you – it will affect me for life.

“I have had my childhood removed and he should be locked up for the rest of his life.” 

A spokesman for Local Education Authority, Bedford Borough Council, said: “Mr Slater was employed at Harrowden Middle School. Upon his arrest the school immediately suspended Mr Slater and he left the school on May 31, 2008. 

“Due process was followed and the matter was referred to the Local Authority Designated Officer under multi-agency safeguarding procedures agreed by the Local Children’s Safeguarding Board.

“We can confirm no pupil from the school was involved in this case.

“Bedford Borough Council takes its responsibility of safeguarding children very seriously and strict staff vetting, including criminal record bureau checks are carried out on all employees with substantial access to children.”