Ex-head accused of historic child abuse charges

A HEADMASTER at a Suffolk school beat and sexually abused young boys in his care inflicting a reign of terror, a court has heard.

Derek Slade ruled St George’s School in Great Finborough, near Stowmarket, under a harsh regime using excessive corporal punishment which caused pain to his pupils that was “off the scale”, it was alleged.

Slade’s trial began yesterday at Ipswich Crown Court where a jury of ten women and two men will hear details of a string of alleged assaults including graphic sexual abuse of boys aged between eight and 13 which date back to the late 70’s and early 80’s.

Outlining the prosecution’s case Andrew Thompson said the 61-year-old would host “midnight feasts” at his house in the school grounds to which he would invite friends and pupils.

There he would subject the boys to horrific sexual assaults, the prosecution claimed.

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Mr Thompson said: “His leadership has been described by some as a reign of terror.

“He derived some sexual pleasure from punishing the boys and comforting them afterwards.”

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He described Slade hitting, striking and kicking pupils.

Slade has denied six counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, five counts of indecent assault on a male person and four counts of buggery.

He has pleaded guilty to 15 counts of indecent assault on a male person and four counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

A female juror broke down in tears as Mr Thompson described some of the serious sexual assaults he is alleged to have inflicted on his young victims.

Slade would invite pupils into his office where he would subject them to corporal punishment placing them over his knee while they were half-naked and caressing them and comforting them afterwards.

He allegedly forced one pupil to perform a sexual act on him whilst in his office and another, who had wet the bed and was looking for help, he is accused of assaulting the boy, relating to one of the buggery charges.

A few boys, his “particular favourites” were chosen by Slade, for his “sexual exploitation,” Mr Thompson said.

Pupils were caned and beaten with slippers, trainers and a table tennis bat without any padding, he added.

After punishing pupils he would sometimes give them sweets or a coin and would expect them to thank him, the court heard.

Letters written to parents by the boys were checked before they were sent.

One former pupil said he received the “beating of a lifetime” after Slade read a letter in which he asked to be taken out of St George’s.

Thirteen of Slade’s former pupils, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have come forward since the police investigation was launched, detailing alleged assaults which happened between 1978 and 1983.

Slade, who now lives in Farm Road, Burton-on-Trent, was arrested earlier this year in Derbyshire.

St George’s School was a private boys boarding school. In 1980 it moved from Wicklewood, near Wymondham in Norfolk to Great Finborough near Stowmarket.

It was in 1982 that the spotlight first fell on Slade, who was educated at Oxford University.

A BBC radio programme Checkpoint investigated St George’s harsh regime comparing it to the school referred to in Charles Dickens’ novel Nicholas Nickleby which features the tyrannical headmaster Wackford Squeers.

Many of Slade’s victims have changed their names since leaving the school and have recently renewed contact via Facebook.

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