December 2005

No jail term for child sex abuser

A retired school housemaster from Yate who admitted sexually abusing one of his teenage boy pupils at Sedbury Park School 45 years ago has escaped a prison term.

The longest running child abuse inquiry ever carried out by the Gloucestershire Constabulary ended following the conviction of a 80-year old man for indecent assaults on young boys

Gerald Sweatman (80) was given a one-year suspended sentence yesterday by a judge, who also ordered him to pay his victim, now aged 59, compensation of £4,000.

Gerald Rex Sweatman appeared at Gloucester Crown Court in October 2005 to face one charge of buggery, two indecent assaults on a boy under 14 and two gross indecencies on boys under 18.

Having previously pleaded not guilty to the charges, no evidence was offered on the remaining offences. Sweatman, of Firgrove Crescent, Yate, pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault on a 16-year-old boy between May 1960 and July 1961 on the second day of a trial at Gloucester Crown Court in October, no evidence was offered on the remaining offences.

The 80-year-old was an assistant house master at Sedbury Park School, near Chepstow, a boarding school for up to 85 boys between 13 and 16, who were referred there by local authorities throughout the South West.

Sedbury Park is now a care home for the elderly

Sedbury Park School was a community home under the control of Gloucestershire Local Authority from 1973.

Sweatman was employed at the school as a housemaster between May 1958 to June 1961.

His victim was resident at the school at the time of the offences and Sweatman was originally arrested in August 2003, being charged in March 2004.