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Teacher Kevin Copestake jailed after sexually abusing boy at Judd School in Tonbridge and then another pupil in Pulborough, West Sussex

A teacher sexually abused a boy at a Kent school more than 30 years ago and then went on to commit similar offences with another pupil in a different county.

A judge compared Kevin Copestake’s earlier denials to those of disgraced BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall, who vehemently protested his innocence and later pleaded guilty to abusing girls.

The 61-year-old former history and PE teacher molested one boy at The Judd School in Tonbridge in the early 1980s and another at Dorset House School in Bury, Pulborough, West Sussex, in 2005.

Kevin Copestake has been jailed for more than five years
Kevin Copestake has been jailed for more than five years

“He had the opportunity to plead guilty in 2005,” said Judge Michael Carroll.

“He chose not to. The boy was eventually told: ‘We are not taking any action against your abuser.’

“Then he says: ‘Nobody believes me.’ Where have we recently heard that? It reminds me of the Stuart Hall situation where he inadvisedly proclaimed from the court steps this was all lies and he was an innocent man, and a little while later pleaded guilty.

“The matter was identified as an aggravating feature. I do not see much between that proclamation and his (Copestake’s) protestation of innocence. He lied to the police.”

Jonathan Goodman, defending, replied: “Mr Hall broadcast his comments on national TV and radio to the distress of victims he challenged publicly. Not so Mr Copestake.”

The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court
The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court

Copestake, of High Street, Northwold, Norfolk, was jailed for five years two months after admitting three offences of indecent assault involving one boy at the Tonbridge grammar school and indecency with a child, and inciting a boys to watch a sexual act while at Dorset House.

Prosecutor Daniel Fugallo told Maidstone Crown Court Copestake began grooming the boy, aged 13, at The Judd School after suggesting extra history tuition at his flat in Tunbridge Wells.

He showed him pornographic magazines and suggested they had a bath together, during which he committed sex acts. It happened on many occasions.

“He felt powerless to say no because of his position as a teacher,” said Mr Fugallo.

Copestake invited another boy to his flat and encouraged him to perform a sex act on himself while showing him pornography.

Judge Michael Carroll
Judge Michael Carroll

Parents were told and it was reported to the police, but no action was taken.

Copestake was sacked in 1982. He even wrote letters of apology to one boy and his parents - described as “hypocritical” by the judge.

He went on to work at Dorset House as a sports instructor and handyman, where in 2005 he texted a boy calling himself “Cupcake”.

He took the boy and another pupil to his houseboat in Chichester and caused them to perform a sex act on themselves.

The distressed boy contacted the police but Copestake was not prosecuted. He was suspended by the school.

"All these offences represent a gross breach of trust. Children you were there to look after and protect were abused by you..." - Judge Michael Carroll

He was finally charged after the victim at The Judd School came forward more recently.

Judge Carroll told Copestake: “All these offences represent a gross breach of trust. Children you were there to look after and protect were abused by you.”

He said of The Judd School victim: “When it came to light you wrote hypocritical letters to him and his parents in order to deflect any criminal investigation.”

The judge said getting two boys to watch pornography “represented an escalation in risk-taking and criminality”.

He added: “You believed you could get away with it and you did for many years. You had lied your way out of your criminal behaviour.

“I firmly believe you are still in denial today, 30 years on, appearing to blame the teacher training system all those years ago in which you were encouraged to get too close to pupils and hypocritically professing the wish to help those pupils with sex education.”

A sexual offences prevention order was made and Copestake’s name will appear on the sex offenders’ register, both indefinitely. He was barred from working with children.

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