Boris Johnson backs an end to automatic half-way release for sexual and violent offenders – described as ‘nonsense’ by one prisons expert.

Boris Johnson has indicated violent or sexual offenders could remain locked up for longer if he becomes prime minister – which one prisons expert has described as ‘political posturing and sheer nonsense.’

The Tory leadership hopeful said it was wrong that prisoners were routinely let out after serving just half of the sentence handed down in court.

Mr Johnson also said Theresa May had been wrong to introduce curbs on the police’s stop and search powers, and said it was important to “change that balance back” in favour of officers.

But while he struck a tough tone on law and order, Mr Johnson hinted to the Daily Mail he could grant an amnesty for long-term illegal migrants.

Setting out his views on sentencing, the former London mayor told the newspaper: “I’m afraid there are too many people, because of the way the sentencing law works, who have committed serious violence or sexual offences who are being let out, as the law prescribes, after they’ve served only half the sentence that is pronounced in open court.

“This is happening. And I’m talking about serious sexual or violent offenders.

“And I think the public is noticing this, quite properly. They don’t think it’s right, and I don’t think it’s right.”

Mr Johnson promised a “relentless focus” on knife crime and criticised the 2014 measures on stop and search brought in by Mrs May.

“When it comes to stop and search, the fact is that we went wrong when we decided to change the rules on the best use of stop and search.

“We made it more difficult. And I think it’s important that we change that balance back.”

Mr Johnson has already pledged to spend £1.1 billion a year funding 20,000 extra police officers as part of his pitch to Tory members to elect him as their leader on July 23.

Mark Leech, Editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales writes:

This is political posturing and sheer nonsense of the worst kind, not least because it places prison officers in even greater danger in terms of discipline and control, but because it also assumes Judges know nothing about release arrangements and, what’s more, it totally ignores the reality that the power to issue an extended sentence to sexual and violent offenders already exists.

The fact is there is not a single prison officer or governor who would thank you for imposing a regime where the most dangerous violent and sexual offenders have to serve their whole sentence in custody.

The prospect of early release is one of the most potent weapons they have in their armoury to encourage compliance, removing it would render that weapon impotent and place the most dangerous offenders in a position where they have nothing to gain or lose from custodial behaviour.

Secondly, our judges know exactly that the Criminal Justice Act 2003 means the vast majority of offenders are released at the half-way point of their sentence, and are then subject to strict licence conditions and recall until the end of the sentence.

Judges I have spoken to tell me that, within sentencing guidelines, which confer a wide discretion on sentence length, they determine the amount of time they want a person to serve in custody and, where the law allows, they double it.

Removing that automatic release wouldn’t mean someone sentenced today to ten years would then serve ten years – the reality is that the sentence imposed would simply be halved so the custodial portion of the sentence remains exactly the same.

Finally the reality is that the courts already have the power to impose an extended sentence on dangerous violent or sexual offenders, which may be given to an offender aged 18 or over when:

the offender is guilty of a specified violent or sexual offence;

the court assesses the offender as a significant risk to the public of committing further specified offences; 

a sentence of imprisonment for life is not available or justified; and

the offender has a previous conviction for an offence listed in schedule 15B to the Criminal Justice Act 2003 or the current offence justifies an appropriate custodial term of at least four years.

These sentences were introduced to provide extra protection to the public in certain types of cases where the court has found that the offender is dangerous and an extended licence period is required to protect the public from risk of harm.

The judge decides how long the offender should stay in prison and also fixes the extended licence period up to a maximum of eight years. The offender will either be entitled to automatic release at the two thirds point of the custodial sentence, not the half-way point as Johnson asserts, or be entitled to apply for parole at that point.

If parole is refused the offender will be released at the expiry of the prison term. Following release, the offender will be subject to the licence where he will remain under the supervision of HM Prison and Probation Service until the expiry of the extended period.

The combined total of the prison term and extension period cannot be more than the maximum sentence for the offence committed.

In 2017, a total of 575 offenders were given an extended sentence.

If, as appears likely, Johnson is the next Conservative politician to be crowned Prime Minister, I can only hope that senior Civil Servants will educate him on the reality of the situation which, at the current time he appears to be completely ignorant about.

Mark Leech is the Editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales and tweets under the tag @prisonsorguk

Whole life tariff for child killer and his 20 year campaign of sexual violence

A convicted child murderer has been told he will die in prison by a judge who described his “20-year campaign of rape and sexual assaults against children and women, fuelled by a sadistic desire to inflict pain for sexual gratification”.

John Taylor, 62, was serving a life sentence with a minimum tariff of 30 years following his abduction and murder of 16-year-old Leanne Tiernan in Leeds in 2000.

On Friday, Judge Robin Mairs listened to two hours of shocking details of other “vile, sadistic attacks” on five women and children committed by Taylor between 1977 and 1996, including one on a terrified seven-year-old girl and another which was witnessed by his pregnant victim’s three small children.

Taylor, who admitted a range of offences including multiple rapes at an earlier hearing, showed no emotion as Judge Mairs said he had no choice but to impose a life sentence with a whole life tariff, telling him there is “no doubt that you must be kept in prison for the rest of your life”.

Taylor appeared by video-link at Leeds Crown Court from Wakefield Prison, wearing a grey open-neck shirt and sporting greying hair.

The judge said Taylor’s offending included “vile, sadistic attacks on women and small children marked by ferocity and callousness”.

Judge Mairs heard how many of Taylor’s victims harboured feelings of guilt and anger about the murder of Leanne, wondering if she would be alive today if their case had been solved or if they had reported it earlier.

The court heard one victim said: “When I heard about Leanne Tiernan I felt guilty. I wondered what if I had reported sooner what Taylor did to me.”

Judge Mairs heard how one woman was seven years old when she was grabbed by Taylor in 1984, carried to a church yard and tied to a drain pipe before she was repeatedly sexually assaulted.

He later taunted her outside her home.

Judge Mairs said: “The trauma, fear and nightmares that would have engendered in that child are beyond comprehension.”

He said: “There’s a chilling echo to be found in what happened to (that girl) and what happened to Leanne Tiernan.”

Prosecutor Stephen Wood said that in 1982, Taylor held a knife to the throat of a 27-year-old woman who was walking with her son and daughters, who were all aged under eight, and demanded that she perform a sex act on him.

Taylor fled after her daughters, who feared they were about to see their mother murdered, screamed.

Another woman raped by Taylor explained how she felt “hatred and loathing” for police 20 years ago when she was told “to get on with my life and forget what happened to me”.

Mr Wood told the judge: “All these offences demonstrate the defendant’s long standing, violent and sadistic proclivities towards vulnerable women and female children.

“He became ever more emboldened over time before finally committing the murder of Leanne Tiernan.”

Leanne was snatched by Taylor in November 2000 and subjected to sexual assaults before he killed her.

Her body was found in woodland eight months later.

Police later discovered the body had been kept for some time in Taylor’s freezer at his home in the Bramley area of Leeds, where he was nicknamed The Pet Man.

The court heard how this was partly down to Taylor wanting to keep a trophy.

Taylor was jailed for life in 2002 with a minimum tariff of 25 years but this was later reduced to 20 years.

A year later, he was convicted of two further masked knifepoint rapes dating back to 1988 and 1989 and his minimum term was increased to 30 years.

Taylor’s decades of offending was pieced together following a cold case review called Operation Quayside, which involved West Yorkshire Police, the National Crime Agency and forensic services.

Speaking outside court, Detective Superintendent Jim Dunkerley, of West Yorkshire Police, described Taylor as a “monster”.

When asked whether there might be further victims of the murderer, he added: “John Taylor, as we have seen today, would be described as a monster. He has committed horrendous acts.

“I will continue to review all the undetected cases that we have, and John Taylor may feature in there, but I have to say that I have to look at it objectively and look at other offenders who may be within that case lodge.”


Carer who sexually abused elderly victims has sentence increased to 15 years


A “depraved” carer who filmed herself sexually abusing elderly victims at a residential home and shared the footage with her boyfriend has had five years added to her prison sentence.

Judges at the Court of Appeal in London agreed with Solicitor General Robert Buckland that the original jail term of 10 years imposed in the case of, 26, of Woodville Road, Torquay, was “unduly lenient”.

Sethi was sentenced at Plymouth Crown Court in August after earlier pleading guilty to five offences relating to the sexual abuse of two women and one man in her care.

The victims she selected all suffered from dementia. One was terminally-ill with cancer and receiving end of life care. Sethi used her mobile telephone to record the abuse.

Lady Justice Hallett, sitting with two other judges, said of Sethi, who watched today’s proceedings via video link from prison: “She sexually abused three elderly, vulnerable, mentally-impaired residents in the most shocking and depraved fashion.

“She filmed the abuse and shared it with her boyfriend.”

After referring to the significant impact the abuse has had on the families of the victims, the judge said: “We will never know what trauma has been suffered by the victims themselves.”

She announced: “We are satisfied that the overall sentence imposed was unduly lenient and it would be appropriate for us to intervene.

“In our judgment the least overall sentence that could have been passed is one of 15 years.”


Mr Buckland said after the hearing: “I asked the Court of Appeal to look at this 10-year sentence under the unduly lenient sentence scheme because multiple sexual offences were committed against three victims.

“The attacks themselves involved a degree of planning and premeditation and Sethi had no regard to the vulnerability of her victims, who she should have being caring for.

“I hope the increase in the custodial sentence to 15 years offers a degree of reassurance to the families of the victims.

“Care home residents and their families should have complete peace of mind that they will not be abused and I offer those involved in this case my sincerest sympathy for the pain and suffering they have endured due to the actions of this despicable woman.”

After Lady Justice Hallett told Sethi of the increase in her sentence, she replied: “OK, yeah. Thank you.”

CCRC “Further investigation needed” in Ched Evans Rape Appeal Application

Ched Evans
Ched Evans

The panel assessing Ched Evans’ latest attempt to have his rape conviction overturned have said further investigation is needed before they can announce a decision.

A committee of three commissioners from the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) met on Tuesday to discuss the former Wales and Sheffield United footballer’s case.

They could have decided whether the conviction should be referred for appeal.

However, a CCRC spokeswoman said: “The Committee decided that further investigation was needed before it meets again to make a final decision on whether or not to refer Mr Evans’ conviction back to the Court of Appeal.”

No date has been fixed for the next meeting.

Once the committee has reached a provisional or final decision, it is typically several days or even weeks before the applicant and others are informed of the conclusion.

Evans applied for a review by the CCRC last year. The 26-year-old was released from prison last year after serving half of his five year sentence for the rape of a 19-year-old woman in a hotel in Rhyl in April 2012.

The footballer has always maintained his innocence. An earlier appeal against his conviction was rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal in 2012.

Evans has made attempts to restart his career but potential moves to Oldham Athletic and his former club Sheffield United collapsed in the face of public outcry.

Dragons Den Star Charged With Sex Offences

Doug Richards
Doug Richard

A former Dragons’ Den star has been charged with child sex offences.

Doug Richard, who acted as an adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, is accused of three counts of sexual activity with a child and one of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

The offences took place in January and relate to one victim who was aged 13 at the time, it is alleged.

Caroline Hughes, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “We have carefully considered the evidence gathered by City of London Police in relation to Douglas Richard, 57, who was arrested on 5 January this year.

“Having completed our review, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest for Douglas Richard to be charged with three counts of sexual activity with a child and one count of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

“The alleged offences occurred on 2 January 2015 and relate to one victim aged 13 at the time.

“The decision to prosecute has been taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.”

Richard will appear at City of London Magistrates’ Court on October 5.

The American-born millionaire, who appeared on BBC’s Dragons’ Den in the first two series, reportedly travelled with the Prime Minister on an official government trip to Africa and advised on policy.

His association with Mr Cameron goes back to at least 2008, when the then oOpposition leader invited the technology entrepreneur to write a report about small business in Britain.

He founded a business loans initiative called School For Startups, alongside the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Rapist has unduly lenient sentence increased

Matthew Whitmore
Matthew Whitmore

A man from Birmingham who raped a “very intoxicated” student as she made her way home after a night out has had his jail sentence increased by leading judges.

They announced at a hearing in London that a prisonsentence of four years imposed in the case of Mathew Whitmore, 25, of Small Heath, was “unduly lenient” – and raised it to six years.

Whitmore, who was jailed in June after pleading guilty at Birmingham Crown Court to an offence of rape, watched the Court of Appeal proceedings via video link from prison.

Lady Justice Hallett, sitting with Mr Justice Jeremy Baker and Mr Justice Goss, said of his 19-year-old victim: “She was young, female, alone at night, and very intoxicated.”

The impact on her was “severe”. She was “paranoid” about going out alone, suffers panic attacks, and feels “tainted and robbed of her own choice, which was to save her virginity for her husband”.

After the hearing, Solicitor General Robert Buckland said in a statement: “This was an appalling attack where the completely innocent victim was steered to an isolated place and raped. Mathew Whitmore behaved atrociously.

“I asked the Court of Appeal to look at the sentence imposed in this case as I felt that four years’ imprisonment was just too low, given the offender’s total disregard for the victim’s well-being and the circumstances of this serious offence.”

He added: “I am pleased that the court found this sentence to be unduly lenient and imposed a higher term of six years’ imprisonment.

“Tackling rape and serious sexual assaults is a key priority for the criminal justice system and we will do all we can to support victims and assist in bringing serious offenders to the attention of the Court of Appeal.”

Max Clifford to appear in court

Jimmy_max_and_garyMax Clifford is to appear in court charged with one count of indecent assault.

The former publicist, who is accused of committing the offence in 1981, will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Baljit Ubhey, chief crown prosecutor for CPS London, said earlier this month when news of the charge was announced: “We have carefully considered the evidence gathered as part of Operation Yewtree in relation to Max Clifford, who was arrested at Littlehey Prison on March 12.

“Having completed our review, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest for Mr Clifford to be charged with one offence of indecent assault.”

Scotland Yard said Clifford was charged with indecent assault on a woman aged over 16.

Clifford represented some of the biggest names in show business – including pop mogul Simon Cowell, reality TV star Jade Goody and boxer Muhammad Ali – in a career that spanned more than 40 years.

He became famous for brokering deals with the tabloids for kiss and tell stories and was behind the tale that spawned the infamous headline Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster.

False rape claim woman jailed

Comfort Yinusa
Comfort Yinusa

A young woman who cried rape after a boozy night out was told she had “let down” genuine sex victims as she was jailed for eight months, having made a false report of rape outside an east London pub.
Tube worker Comfort Yinusa, 23, wasted more than 100 hours of police time after she dialled 999 at 5am on October 25 2013 to make the false report that she had been raped and sexually assaulted by two men outside a pub.
The men she accused were subjected to a “humiliating” ordeal, spending six weeks on bail and hours in police custody as a result.
The court heard how one of the men had felt “shocked, shame and stigma” after being falsely accused by Yinusa, who had a history of cocaine and alcohol abuse.
At an earlier hearing at the Old Bailey, Yinusa pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice ahead of her trial.
She wept in the dock as judge Peter Rook QC told her that despite her “genuine remorse” she must go to jail.
He told her: “Taking all the circumstances into account this matter is so serious that only a sentence of immediate prison is appropriate.
“You have let down genuine rape victims. Your actions have led to two innocent men being put through the humiliation of arrest and all the procedures that followed.”
Her actions had also led to the “wasting of precious police resources”, he said.
However, the judge noted that the rape claim was not part of a “long-term vendetta” against an intended victim and the Kingston University drop-out was now a different person.
The court heard how Yinusa was intoxicated when she accused the men of attacking her outside a pub near Liverpool Street station in the City.
She said she had left the Dollshouse club with them and made the allegation after phoning her boyfriend in distress and asking to be picked up.
Two police officers and an ambulance with two paramedics were sent to investigate and treat any injuries.
But detectives discovered CCTV footage at a nearby McDonald’s restaurant which showed Yinusa and her two alleged attackers laughing together.
Phone records also revealed one of the men was walking streets looking for his car when she claimed the alleged rape happened.
More than £3,000 was wasted on forensic inquiries until her arrest in December 2013.
Prosecutor Heather Stangoe said Yinusa refused to be medically examined the day after making the claim and failed to turn up for police interviews.
She later told detectives she did not want to go ahead with her complaint.
But in the meantime, one of the suspects had spent 14 hours and the other 16 hours in police custody.
The court heard that Yinusa, of Tilbury, had alcohol issues and used cocaine for three years before the incident.
Since then, the defendant, who was of previous good character, found a job working for London Underground helping members of the public.

Police officer couldn’t control sexual urges

Christopher Hopkins
Christopher Hopkins

A police constable was “unable to contain his urges” as he committed a string of sexual assaults while on duty, a court has heard.

Christopher Hopkins, 41, is said to have targeted his three alleged victims between 2006 and 2013 – an under-age girl, a 17-year-old girl and a work colleague at Merseyside Police.

The married father also allegedly arranged over the internet to meet a man for sexual activity when he should have been on mobile police patrol.

opening the prosecution case at Preston Crown Court, Richard Haworth told jurors: “The Crown’s case, in a nutshell, is that he was unable to contain his sexual urges and all of these alleged offences were committed to satisfy his predatory sexual nature.

“As an overall view, the audacity and impertinence of some of the sexual advances beggars belief at times. But such an approach is a common feature of his offending.”

The first complainant was aged between 13 and 15 when Hopkins visited her home address after she had been reported missing.

While alone together in the kitchen Hopkins commented she looked old for her age and effectively “gave her the once over” as he looked her up and down, said the prosecutor.

Mr Haworth said the complainant felt “intimidated” when Hopkins asked her for a kiss.

She went to give him a kiss on the cheek but the defendant turned and kissed her on the lips, the court heard.

The teenager went on to have further dealings with the complainant and arrested her on one occasion.

Mr Haworth said that while en route to the police station the defendant remarked to a fellow officer: “How long do you think it will before she is pregnant?”

The prosecutor went on: “He had possession of her mobile phone and he was looking through the content.

“He found pictures stored on her phone which depicted her wearing only her underwear and, the prosecution say, he showed them to his colleague in due course.”

On another occasion, Hopkins approached the complainant in public while in uniform and said to her: “You know what you need, don’t you? A f*** buddy.”

Hopkins, of Whickham Close, Widnes, Cheshire, denies five counts of sexual assault, one count of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and one count of misconduct in a public office.

Jail terms for school abuse trio

Baker, Putman & Hennessey
Baker, Putman & Hennessey

Three men have been jailed after being found guilty of historical sexual abuse at a school for vulnerable boys over a period of more than 30 years.

Colwyn Baker, 71, David Hennessy, 75, and Nigel Putman, 62, abused youngsters at the now-defunct Swaylands School in Penshurst, Kent.

As well as the abuse committed by the trio, Baker encouraged other pupils to abuse other children at the school for youngsters aged around eight to 16.

His “favourites” were known as “Baker’s Boys” and over many years Baker “ruled by fear” using intimidation and coercion, a judge said.

Sentencing the men, the judge said the case “constitutes one of the worst possible breaches of trust that a court can deal with”.

And he added that the abuse suffered by the victims would be “seared in their memory banks … for the rest of their lives”.

The three men were residential child care officers at Swaylands, which closed in 1994, but their abuse left many victims with life-long problems, according to victim impact statements.

Barnet Council in north London ran the school, which was an institution for young people with moderate learning difficulties and later schooled boys with emotional and behavioural problems.

At Maidstone Crown Court today, Baker, of Craighouse Avenue, Morningside, Edinburgh, was jailed for 20 years after being found guilty of 20 counts, stretching back to 1963, following a 12-week trial.

Hennessy, of Westfields, Narborough, King’s Lynn, Norfolk, was jailed for 12 years after being convicted of six counts and Putman, of Kings Road, Slough, Berkshire, was jailed for three years after being found guilty of two counts.


In a packed courtroom, victim impact statements were read by prosecutor Philip Bennetts QC, detailing the toll the abuse had had on victims’ lives.

One victim said in his statement: “At the time I didn’t realise it was wrong because the abuse was done in a way that made it seem OK.

“I was sent to the school because I needed looking after. I was a little boy and I wasn’t looked after. I was made to do things that I shouldn’t. This will always affect me.”

Another told how he had only been at the school for two weeks when Hennessy started abusing him. He said he blamed himself “for letting him do it” and could “never sleep peacefully”.

He said: “I didn’t stand a chance. It was a school for vulnerable children and they took advantage of that.”

He added that the experience had “ruined his life” and he suffers from nightmares and flashbacks.

All three men sat in the dock impassively as the statements were read, with Baker occasionally taking sips from a cup of water.

During their trial, Mr Bennetts said the atmosphere at the school was one “where abuse was almost the norm”.

One of Baker’s victims became so scared that he often stayed awake at night, sleeping in stairwells to avoid Baker.

As a result, the boy would often fall asleep in class, causing a dramatic decline in his learning. But Mr Bennetts said the boy ended up being caned by the headmaster as a punishment for dozing off.

In mitigation, Benjamin Narain, defending Baker, said he suffered from medical issues, including hypertension, diabetes and had made several suicide bids after suffering depression.

Since leaving Swaylands, Baker had gained a degree in software engineering from Edinburgh Napier University, Mr Narain added.

He conceded that prison would be a “hard experience” for Baker but accepted he faced a lengthy term of imprisonment for the abuse he committed.

Alan Kent QC, for married ex-Royal Navy member Hennessy, spoke of his client’s confusion about his sexuality in his younger years. And he said Hennessy had lived for the past 20 years an “unblemished life” in Norfolk.

Henry Grunwald QC, for Putman, described his client as “of positive good character” who was married with an adopted daughter, adding he suffered from Type 2 diabetes and was the primary carer for his ill wife.

Lawyers at law firm Leigh Day, representing survivors of abuse at the school, have said the men “picked on” the most vulnerable children who came from already troubled backgrounds or had special needs.

Instead of being sent from London to Swaylands to be cared for, the men “cruelly abused” them and created an environment where sex between children became “normalised through fear”, said Alison Millar, head of the abuse team at Leigh Day.

Questions have been raised about the checks made to ensure appropriate people were trusted with the care of the children and about supervision arrangements.

Jurors were told during the trial that Baker was convicted in 1994 of four counts of indecent assault on a boy aged under 16 and one count of gross indecency.

And it was also disclosed that Hennessy was convicted in December 1993 of four counts of indecent assault on a boy and two sex offences against a pupil.

There were further calls, following the case, for a British “mandatory reporting” law to be introduced where those who do not report child abuse suspicions face prosecution.

Barnet Council has said it was sorry for the abuse suffered by the victims. And it said there was a “continuing need to learn lessons from the past” to keep children safe.

A council spokesman said it no longer runs distant boarding schools for vulnerable children. Barnet’s two current residential children’s homes are both within the borough.


Judge Philip Statman said that, to the outsider, Swaylands had excellent facilities, with a swimming pool and regular trips were laid on for children.

“But when the veneer was stripped away in this courtroom it has been revealed in a wholly different picture, namely one of sexual abuse, perpetrated by those in a position of trust against young, vulnerable boys as they approached and proceeded through adolescence,” he said.

The judge praised the victims for their “courage, dignity and restraint” as well as police for upholding the “highest standards”.

And, addressing the men in the dock, he went on: “What those pupils, as they then were, suffered at your hands is seared in their memory banks, in my judgment, for the rest of their lives.

“At a time when they were journeying through adolescence and had arrived at school with educational difficulties, needing stability and a caring environment, they were met by sexual abuse.

“The night-time hours became a time of fear for them. Who among those who have sat in this court listening to the evidence will forget the evidence of (a victim) and of how he would hide at night to avoid attention from sexual abuse.

“They remained scarred by what happened to them and it’s clear from their victim impact statements of their shame and embarrassment.

“Who could they trust? Who would listen to them? How many have had to challenge their own sexual identity?”


Following the case, Detective Superintendent Paul Fotheringham, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “This sentencing brings to a close a comprehensive investigation that has lasted a number of years.

“I’m pleased with the sentences that have been passed, and it shows that no matter how long the passage of time, if you are convicted of carrying out sexual offences you will feel the full weight of the law.

“As residential child care officers, Baker, Hennessy and Putman were supposed to look after the boys out of class. Instead they exploited the pupils in their care and committed horrible acts over a long period of time.

“The first victims in this case came forward in 2011. But it soon became apparent there had been others affected and officers went to great lengths to ensure no stone was left unturned.

“After a great deal of work by all parties, the Crown Prosecution Service agreed to charge these three men with 48 counts of sexual abuse on 24 children, though our officers spoke to many more ex-pupils as part of our very thorough investigation.

“Officers heard how some children who tried to resist the offenders’ abuse would be beaten or refused food. At other times, classmates of uncooperative victims were denied leisure activities – to make the victim unpopular and feel guilty.

“Despite the weight of this corroborative evidence the three men refused to admit to their crimes. Instead they forced their victims to appear at court and recount the abuse they had suffered all those years ago.

“We had 65 ex-pupils make allegations, and with the victims and CPS we have put forward the strongest case to the court.

“All the victims were involved in the process and have been kept fully up to date. This is justice for all of them and I’d personally like to thank all those who have helped bring this case to a conclusion.”

Alison Millar, head of the abuse team at law firm Leigh Day which is representing survivors of abuse at the school, said: “These offences were hideous and the sentences handed down are significant given the restrictions on the judge to use the sentencing requirements of the time, when the maximum sentences for serious sexual assault were very different.

“One of our clients told us that it felt like they’d waited all their life for this moment.

“However, the criminal justice process has been traumatic for our clients, requiring them to relive the most personal and traumatic memories and feelings and then be cross-examined in court about their recollections.

“This case clearly demonstrates the vital importance of proper support and assistance for those dealing with the lasting effects of abuse.

“It is also of great concern that Hennessy was allowed back into his post, to continue to abuse boys, having left ‘under a cloud’ 18 months before.

“The mistakes of the past cannot be allowed to happen in the present. We urgently call for mandatory reporting of all suspected child abuse to ensure that all schools and other institutions are made to report such concerns to the police and cannot be allowed to deal with it as they see fit.”