Former verger jailed over teenager assault
AN assistant verger at the historic St Mary’s Collegiate Church in Warwick has been jailed after being convicted of sexually assaulting a second teenager almost 30 years ago
That victim came forward after seeing newspaper reports of one of two court cases for which of retired teacher Alan Baker had appeared at Warwick Crown Court last year.
And last week 81-year-old Baker was jailed for two-and-a-half-years and ordered to register as a sex offender for life after pleading guilty to three charges of indecent assault.
Prosecutor Paul Fairley said that in April last year Baker had been given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years for sexual assaults on a 17-year-old youth.
As a result of subsequent press coverage, the police were contacted by a man in his early 40s who described having been abused by Baker when he was 14 or 15.
He had come in to contact with Baker, who at the time was a teacher at a local primary and middle school and a prominent member of St Mary’s Collegiate Church in Warwick, at a time when he was having difficulties at home.
The court heard Baker befriended him and began offering him private music tuition, during which he said Baker would stand behind him, pressing himself against his back, although Baker denied doing so when he was interviewed.
The man also described incidents when Baker would push him up against a wall and fondle him over his trousers before progressing to doing so after undoing the boy’s trousers. There were other more serious incidents of sexual assault.
Mr Fairley pointed out that as well as the sentence a year ago, Baker had been back before the court in November after he breached a Sexual Harm Prevention Order imposed at the time of the original sentence.
That had involved him continuing to give music lessons to children without informing some of the children’s parents about his conviction, in breach of the order. And as a result he was given an additional eight-month sentence suspended for two years.
Nick Devine, defending, acknowledged prison was inevitable, but added that Baker pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, felt remorse, and aged 81 was not in the best of health. He added that Baker, of Buckley Road, Leamington, had worked all his life in the teaching profession until he retired, and had never had a proper relationship of any sort.
Jailing Baker, Recorder Anthony Lowe told him: “Some years ago now, when you were in your 50s, and having all the trappings of respectability as a teacher and a verger at the local church, you befriended [the victim] and you offered him music lessons.
“I am quite satisfied that at the very least the ulterior motive was to present you with the opportunity to engage in sexual activity with him, which you proceeded to do on at least three occasions.
“This was a very grave offence. He was only 14 or 15 at the time. It is difficult sometimes to understand the effects that such sexual activity has on such young people.
“In the statement he’s made to the court he says he always felt he had a dirty little secret, and that somehow there was some sense of responsibility on his part.
“There was quite significant grooming, a gross breach of trust and a significant disparity in age. The psychological effect on him has been quite profound.
“You have been able to live the last 25-or-so years of your life with everyone believing you were an upstanding member of the community, when you were not.”
Piano teacher carried on giving lessons to children after sexual assault conviction
Within days of being made subject to a sex offender’s order, a disgraced former verger at the historic St Mary’s Church in Warwick was giving unsupervised piano lessons to children.
That put 81-year-old retired teacher Alan Baker in breach of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order imposed at Warwick Crown Court when he was sentenced for sexually assaulting a teenage boy.
It was also a breach of the 12-month suspended prison sentence, with 100 hours of unpaid work and an order to register as a sex offender for ten years, he had been given.
But Baker, of Buckley Road, Leamington, again narrowly escaped being jailed after admitting the two breaches.
Instead, he was given an additional eight-month prison sentence suspended for two years, with an 8pm to 8am curfew for eight months, and was ordered to do 140 hours of unpaid work.
Prosecutor Ian Windridge said one of the conditions of the Sexual Harm Prevention Order imposed on April 29 was that Baker was not to have unsupervised contact with any child under the age of 16 without the consent of a parent or guardian in full knowledge of his sexual assault conviction.
Baker was a member of the church at St Mary’s, where he was an assistant verger and the music librarian for the choir, and had been a school music and French teacher until 1993.
After being sentenced in April, when he had said he would stop teaching music to children, he was subject to supervision by Warwickshire Police’s sex offender management team.
And two weeks later officers found he had not stopped giving lessons to children, so they spoke to the parents of a number of youngsters he had been teaching.
Some said they were aware of Baker’s conviction because of reports they had seen, and had cancelled the lessons, while others said Baker had informed them.
But the parents of four children were unaware of the matter, and Baker had visited their homes for lessons, including teaching one ten-year-old boy without any supervision.
Judge Andrew Lockhart QC observed that as well as being in breach of the order, by continuing to teach unsupervised, Baker had been in breach of the bail conditions he was subject to before being sentenced.
Judge Lockhart said: “Most fortunately, and happily, you committed no sexual offences against the children when you were with them, and I am just persuaded to take a wholly exceptional course.”
Pervert Warwick verger escapes jail sentence
AN ASSISTANT verger at the historic St Mary’s Collegiate Church in Warwick fondled a vulnerable teenager he had met away from his church duties.
Eighty-year-old retired teacher Alan Baker pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to two charges of sexually assaulting the teenager, who the court heard was over 16 at the time.
Baker, of Buckley Road, Leamington, was sentenced to 12 months in jail suspended for two years, with an 8pm to 8am curfew for three months, and ordered to register as a sex offender for ten years.
Judge Andrew Lockhart QC also ordered Baker to do 100 hours of unpaid work.
Prosecutor Peter Cooper said Baker had met his victim when the youth was in his mid-teens, and befriended him and allowed him to visit his home.
On occasions he gave the boy alcohol, cigarettes and gifts, and sometimes took him along when he had cleaning duties at St Mary’s Church, where he was an assistant verger.
But twice when the youth visited his home last year, Baker sexually assaulted him.
And Mr Cooper said ton another occasion Baker had touched the teenager over his clothing.
The boy later confided in his behaviour specialist who then contacted his mother.
After Baker had tried to telephone the victim, the boy’s mother rang Baker who admitted to her what he had done and said he was bisexual.
Mr Cooper added: “In a second call she told him she had made an audio recording, which was not true, and that he had ten minutes to give himself up to the police or she would call them.
“He did so, and went to Leamington police station and said he wished to confess to a sexual offence.
Rebecca Wade, defending, said Baker, who ‘concedes his actions were nothing other than abhorrent,’ had not met the youth through the church, and there had been no grooming.
“He has expressed remorse to a number of people. He assures the court in very strong terms he will never behave in this way again.”
Miss Wade said Baker had been a primary and middle school teacher, with particular expertise in music and French, until his retirement, after which ‘he dedicated his life to the church’ as the music librarian, assistant verger and working with the choir.
Sentencing Baker, Judge Lockhart told him: “You are a man of 80 years of age, and you have led an exemplary life until these offences. But you committed two sexual assaults on a troubled young man.
“Matters came to light because his mother became concerned, and it is right to say that in a series of calls she confronted you and you made admissions, and you then did what was a sensible and honest thing in that you went to the police before any formal complaint had been made.
“I have come to the view I am just persuaded that I can suspend your sentence of imprisonment.”
Detective Sergeant Cawail Wong of Warwickshire Police said: “Baker has sexually abused a young person for his own gratification and these offences have had a considerable impact on the victim and his family.
“The bravery he has shown in coming forward to police must be commended and I would like to thank him for the courage he has shown.
“We hope such a result will help to reassure victims we will always investigate any allegations of sexual exploitation thoroughly and as a consequence bring offenders to justice.
“It can be difficult to recognise the warning signs of child sexual exploitation, but if you think something’s not right, please report it to police.
“The law is clear – no child under the age of 18 can ever consent to being abused or exploited.”