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Cranbrook: Former Dulwich Prep and Homewood School teacher Geoffrey Oborn jailed for historic sexual offences

A 79-year-old former maths teacher and home tutor who molested three pupils almost 40 years ago has been jailed for seven years.

Geoffrey Oborn's own legal team admitted he now faces dying in prison.

Ian Henderson QC, defending, said the pensioner's sentence would also impact on his 81-year-old wife who is housebound and suffers from dementia.

Geoffrey Oborn. Picture: Kent Police
Geoffrey Oborn. Picture: Kent Police

But Judge Philip Statman remarked that while it was 'an absolute tragedy' for her, it was equally tragic for Oborn's victims.

During his trial, the court heard Oborn 'gyrated' his pelvis against one youngster, and simulated sex with another as she sat on his lap during a home lesson.

A boy was molested on numerous occasions inside a stationery cupboard when Oborn taught at Homewood Secondary School in Tenterden, Kent, in the early 1980s.

Years later, the victim tracked Oborn down and telephoned his home under the pretence of organising a school reunion before deciding to report him to police.

Now in his 40s, he told Maidstone Crown Court in Kent he Googled Oborn's name and the village he had lived in.

"I didn't know if Mr Oborn was alive or dead and it kept playing on my mind that if he was still alive, would he be doing what he did to me to other people," he said.

"Nosiness got the better of me and I put a search in Google. A number came up and I phoned him after a bit of contemplation, pretending to organise a school reunion.

"I spoke to Mr Oborn's wife, who confirmed that he lived at the address and was out playing golf.

"I asked if it was the same Mr Oborn who taught at Homewood school in the early 1980s and she said 'Oh yes, that's my husband'."

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

However, it was a church sermon about forgiveness which eventually led to the alleged abuse being reported.

Oborn, who also taught PE, was arrested in November 2014, and then twice more in 2016 when two other victims came forward.

He denied 13 offences of indecent assault and one of indecency with a child but was convicted by a jury of all charges in less than three hours after a trial in October.

Sentencing the grandfather of two today, Judge Statman said his victims' lives had been scarred by his behaviour.

He told Oborn he had seized on their vulnerability for his own sexual gratification, and abused two in what should have been the safest of places, their homes.

"You are now 79 years of age. You must have thought as the years passed by that you had got away with it. But that is not to be the case," said Judge Statman.

"You lived a double life in the sense you were a highly regarded teacher, entrusted by the schools in which you worked to teach children.

"From start to finish in this case you have shown not an inkling of remorse. You have absolutely no insight as to the damage you have done.

"Your interests are secondary to those of your victims. Of course it is never an easy task to send a man of your age to prison for a first time and indeed for a considerable period of time."

Judge Philip Statman at Maidstone Crown Court
Judge Philip Statman at Maidstone Crown Court

Oborn, of Wheatfield Drive, Cranbrook, showed no emotion as he was jailed.

In mitigation, Mr Henderson had asked the judge to take Oborn's age and poor health into account.

"While not seeking to overstate matters, he is a 79-year-old in relatively poor health and there is a possibility that given the length of sentence you may pass he may die in prison.

"I don't seek to be dramatic. It is a feature and no more."

Referring to Mrs Oborn's health difficulties, Mr Henderson added: "Either she or he may not make the end of his sentence."

Prosecutor Paul Valder told the court the boy was molested on numerous occasions in a classroom stationery cupboard.

It involved Oborn pushing his groin into and gyrating against the boy's back, touching the boy's genitals over his clothing, and putting his hand down his trousers to fondle him.

Oborn also placed the boy's hand on his own genitals.

The former teacher, who also taught at Dulwich College Preparatory School in Cranbrook, was arrested twice more in January and April last year after further allegations were made by two women.

Both had been home tutored by Oborn. One said he made her sit on his lap while he simulated sex, while the other told police Oborn would touch her breasts under her clothes and put his hand down her knickers.

"He would also press himself against her. She just remembers being confused by it all," said Mr Valder.

"On one specific occasion he gave her a Catherine Cookson novel. She remembers standing, looking at her bookcase, while the defendant put his hands in her knickers."

Oborn refuted the accusations and described the youngster to police as 'a bit of an embarrassment' who always sat too close, with her knee touching his.

The prosecutor told the jury none of the victims knew each other, and said it was 'inconceivable' that they would independently come forward to make false allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of their former teacher and tutor.

"The similarity of what is alleged, by all three, of the defendant pressing himself into them from behind, is the clearest evidence that they are each telling the truth," added Mr Valder.

Passing sentence, Judge Statman remarked on the 'terse' investigation by police after Oborn's third victim immediately reported the abuse of her.

"Back in the early 1980s the manner in which sexual offending was dealt with, both in the community and the courts, is very different to that which it is today when there is support properly given to the victims of crime and sexual abuse.

"There was a terse inquiry by police at the time. When this matter was reviewed many years later, a full inquiry was conducted in a totally appropriate manner and she (Oborn's third victim) was given the appropriate support."

Explaining that he also had to impose jail terms relating to when the offences were committed, the judge said society now seemed to have 'come to terms' with such grave crimes and sentences increased accordingly.

However, Judge Statman told Oborn his abuse had had a profound effect on all three, leaving them with feelings of guilt.

One expressed how Oborn did not even have the decency to plead guilty and spare them the ordeal of reliving in court what happened to them.

Addressing the victims and their families personally in court, Judge Statman added: "None of you are to blame. You are victims of crime.

"Justice has been due to you over a period of years. The courts now fully understand the difficulties that victims, particularly of sexual offending, have in reporting incidents to the police.

"Properly, since the 1980s, the manner in which we deal with these cases has changed dramatically."

On his release, Oborn will have to sign on the sex offenders' register indefinitely and be subject to a seven-year sexual harm prevention order.

He will also be barred from working with children and vulnerable adults.

After the hearing, an NSPCC spokesmann said: “The victims’ families trusted Oborn to look after their children but he abused their confidence in the worst possible way and robbed three children of their innocence.

“It is thanks to the courage of his victims finally breaking the silence about the abuse they suffered that justice has finally caught up with Oborn. We hope they have received all the support that is available to help them recover from their ordeal.”

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