April 2000

Teacher jailed for sex assaults

A teacher with a fetish for little girls in football shirts is behind bars at the start of a 10-month sentence.

Patrick Dunphy, 46, assaulted girls, aged between eight and 11, at schools in Wickford, Hutton and Hornchurch.

He made some youngsters change into the soccer kits in store cupboards where he touched, tickled and cuddled them, Basildon Crown Court heard.

Dunphy, described by a number of pupils as their “favourite teacher”, will be under a strict probation supervision for two years when he leaves prison.

His name will also be added to the national sex offenders’ register, said Judge Philip Clegg.

More than 30 parents sat in court to hear prosecutor Peter Lodder explain that Dunphy was a highly-respected teacher with more than 20 years experience. At one stage in his career he was a deputy headmaster.

Mr Lodder said Dunphy first abused his position of trust at the Long Ridings primary school in Hutton.

He said the defendant, married to a teacher, reduced one girl to tears after he touched her under her school blouse. He tried to tickle her but his thumbs touched her breast.

Police were later called in and an investigation began at other schools where Dunphy had worked.

Similar incidents were alleged to have taken place at the Scotts primary school in Hornchurch where he was warned about his behaviour.

Girls complained they were told to dress up in the football gear, even though there was no girl’s team.

When the wayward teacher moved to Hilltop junior school at Hill Avenue, Wickford, he again asked the young girls to take off their tops and made them wear football shirts, the court heard.

Mr Lodder said Dunphy frequently carried out his bizarre behaviour during the quiet lunch-time spells.

The barrister said as police stepped up inquiries Dunphy, of Nursery Drive, Boreham, near Chelmsford, disappeared to Ireland for some weeks.

On his return, police cautioned him and he replied: “Yes, OK, fair enough.”

In court, he pleaded guilty to three counts of indecent assault and four of common assault.

His barrister, Sarah Buckingham, read a letter to the court in which Dunphy apologised for the assaults.

He begged parents to forgive him for the “anger and anguish” he had caused.

The defendant hoped the children would get over their ordeal and lead happy, normal lives, she read. He accepted he would never again be allowed to work in schools.