Pervert teacher jailed

A PAEDOPHILE who systematically abused two boys over several years has been jailed for life.

Former teacher, Stuart Neville Spencer Crooks (56), of Huddersfield Road, Halifax, admitted two offen-ces of attempted rape, two of indecent assault, three of indecency with a child, making indecent photographs, possessing indecent photographs and attempting to pervert the course of justice, when he appeared at Brad-ford Crown Court.

Judge Rodney Grant said Crooks was so warped he blamed his victims and believed his perverse behaviour had helped them.

He said: "You are an extremely dangerous man with entrenched, distorted attitudes and beliefs.

"You befriended vulnerable children, offered them friendship and affection and in some instances, material advantage, and then betrayed them."

Judge Grant said Crooks used his charm and intelligence to manipulate the boys and their families and said he must serve three years of the eight year sentence.

Crooks taught at the former Exley High School, from 1969 to 1991, when he retired early because of testicular cancer.

He used to run cub scout meetings at St Andrew's Methodist Church, Huddersfield Road, Halifax, just yards from his home.

Mr Tim Capstick, prosecuting, said police investigations began last June after a paperboy reported Crooks exposing himself.

Officers found pornography at his home and identified the two young boys he had preyed upon.

Around six years ago Crooks befriended the boys and their families at a church theatre group and was soon allowed to spend time alone with one child, then eight, who he took to his holiday cottage in the Yorkshire Dales.

Mr Capstick said Crooks took naked photos of the boy, telling him they were for scientific research showing the development of the human body.

The sexual abuse started when the boy was 11 and continued for two years, until Crooks was arrested last year.

He told officers he loved the child like a son and considered himself a father figure.

Mr Capstick said: "He admitted they had a close relationship which involved sexual activity but said the complainant was happy with what happened."

Crooks preyed on another boy, then eight, exposing himself and masturbating while lying naked on a bed beside him.

Police found more than 300 indecent images on Crooks' computer, which he had distributed on the internet.

Crooks was banned from ever contacting the boys again or working with children and was ordered to destroy the photographs, sex toys and computer equipment.

Mr Peter Wright QC, representing Crooks, said he had no previous convictions but had "concealed his particular sexual secret."

The parents of one of the boys, now 14, thanked child protection officers DC Duncan Powe and DC Linda Johnson, who dealt with the case.

The Halifax couple welcomed the sentence and said they were delighted to be able to tell their son his attacker could never contact him again.

Crooks, a bachelor, was a scouter and junior church leader and represented the scout group on St Andrew's church's education committee from the late 1960s.

He trained at Margaret McMillan College, Bradford and joined the teaching staff at Exley Secondary School (now South Halifax High School) in 1969.

Former retired colleague Mrs Dorothy Heads, of Golcar, Huddersfield, remembers him as a popular science teacher.

Crooks also had an interest in electronics and gave his time freely to help with the stage lighting for school plays.

He also worked backstage with the Halifax Thespians at the Playhouse, King Cross Street and with church shows at Salem Methodist Church, Richmond Street, Halifax.

That church is linked with St Andrew's Methodist Church, where he was heavily involved.

Until recent years Crooks was also involved in school productions at South Halifax High.

"There were no problems when he was at school. There was no hint of anything untoward,'' said Mrs Heads.

He has a sister living in the south of England.

District Commissioner of Halifax Scouts Colin Parker said memories of Crooks in the scouting movement were vague.

Mr Parker said headquarters had looked into his involvement and there were no records to suggest anything untoward had happened with young boys in his care.

Anyone working in the scouting movement is strictly vetted to ensure they are suitable to work with youngsters, he said.


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