A CARE worker who abused his position as a house parent and scout leader to sexually molest young boys has been jailed for 41⁄2 years.Matthew Johnson (40), of The Dock, The Old Court House, Kirkby Stephen, had pleaded guilty to 13 offences of indecent assault and two of child abduction, involving nine boys.
He showed no emotion when sentenced on Thursday at Liverpool Crown Court.
Jailing him and ordering him to register under the Sex Offenders Act for life, Judge David Maddison said he had to deter others in positions of trust from committing similar offences — “particularly as the courts see more and more cases of this kind with people with responsibility seriously abusing the trust resting in them”.
He told Johnson: “Your victims were young and vulnerable. They were frightened, confused, humiliated and put in pain.
“They looked to you for proper care and their parents looked to you for proper care. They were persistent offences and this was a gross breach of trust.”
Johnson had denied two charges of indecently assaulting a boy at Balliol School, Sedbergh, where he began working in January, 1985, and six charges of indecently assaulting a wheelchair-bound boy while at his previous school. These were all ordered to lay on file.
Mr. Tim Holroyde QC, prosecuting, told the court that Johnson had been employed as a house parent at West Kirby Residential School, Wirral, between January, 1980, and January, 1985.
The offences involved six pupils at that school and three cub scouts. Johnson had been a scout leader on the Wirral.
Mr. Holroyde said the boys at the school had various difficulties or handicaps and Johnson, whose duties involved out of school care, worked with the younger, more difficult boys.
The offences involved boys mainly aged eight to 11 and included spanking them on their bare bottoms and indecently touching them. Some of the offences took place at his home, then in Lake Place, Hoylake, Wirral; some at the school; and others on camping trips on the Wirral and in the Lake District.
Mr. Holroyde said the abduction offences involved Johnson and another man taking two boys from the West Kirby School to Cumbria during the Christmas holidays in December, 1984.
He had not obtained proper parental consent as the parents thought the boys were going on a properly organised trip and not just with two adults.
During the holiday, Johnson indecently assaulted one of the boys from the school and photographs were taken of both youngsters.
When first arrested in August, 1996, Johnson, who has no previous convictions, admitted sometimes smacking pupils who had been causing damage or endangering themselves, but denied any impropriety towards any boy. He was rearrested in June last year by which time he was working at a school in Holland.
Mr. Anthony Gee QC, defending, said Johnson wished to apologise for his behaviour, which he regretted. The offences happened about 14 years ago and he had had “the courage and manliness” to admit what he had done.
He had formed a stable relationship with a woman he met in Holland and she was standing by him. They hoped eventually to go into business together.
The court heard that Johnson’s father died last year and that he looked after his widowed and wheelchair-bound mother at the home they shared. “She will have enormous difficulty managing without the assistance of her son. He finds that particularly difficult to bear,” said Mr. Gee.
At his request, Judge Maddison indicated to the prison service that Johnson would benefit from specialised assistance available in certain prisons and it was in the interests of the public that he should receive it.
Cumberland & Westmorland Herald 05/09/98