Justice finally caught up this week with a man from Northwold who sexually molested schoolboys when he was teaching 30 years ago.
Kevin Copestake, 61, of High Street, Northwold, was jailed at Maidstone Crown Court for five years after pleading guilty to three offences of indecent assault involving one boy at the Judd School in Tonbridge and indecency with a child, and inciting a boys to watch a sexual act while at a school in Surrey.
The court was told by prosecution counsel, Daniel Fugallo that Copestake, who taught history and PE, had started grooming the Tonbridge boy when he was 13. He had given the boy extra tuition at his Tunbridge Wells flat.
The boy had been shown pornographic magazines and sex acts were committed when they had had a bath together. Mr Fugallo said this happened many times and added that the boy felt “powerless to say no” because Copestake was a teacher.
He said Copestake had also invited another boy to his flat, had shown him pornography and had encouraged him to perform a sex act on himself.
The matters were reported to the police but no action was taken. Copestake was sacked in 1982.
At the Surrey school where he worked as a sports instructor and handyman he had taken two boys to his houseboat in Chichester and persuaded them to perform a sex act on themselves.
Despite one of the boys reporting it he was not prosecuted but was finally charged after the assault victim from The Judd School recently came forward.
The judge also imposed an indefinite sexual offences prevention order, ordered that Copestake’s name must appear on the sex offenders’ register, again indefinitely. And he banned him from working with children.
As he sentenced him the judge drew a comparison between Copesake’s earlier denials and final guilty plea to the original denials of sex abuse by BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall who was ultimately jailed after he did an about turn and pleaded guilty.
Judge Michael Carol said : “This reminds me of the Stuart Hall situation where he inadvisably proclaimed from the court steps this was all lies and he was an innocent man. A little while later pleaded guilty.”
Judge Carol said that Copestake had the opportunity to plead guilty in 2005 but chose not to. He said that as a result the boy was eventually told that no action was being taken against him.
“This 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.
Copestake’s counsel, Jonathan Goodman pointed out that Hall had broadcast his denials on TV and radio but said his client had not made his denials in such a way.
However, the judge said he saw little difference between Hall’s protestation of innocence and Copestake’s denials.
He added : “He lied to the police.”
Judge Carroll said the offences represented a “gross breach of trust.”
“Children you were there to look after and protect were abused by you,” he said.
“You thought you could get away with it and for many years you did. You lied your way out of your criminal behaviour.”