June 2008

Pupils’ shock at pervert teacher

Former students of a schoolteacher jailed for eight months for making child sexual abuse images have spoken of their shock.

Mark Bowman, an ex-maths teacher and badminton coach, taught at private school The Elvian in Southcote for 25 years until July 2006.

He appeared at Oxford Crown Court where he admitted 14 counts of making indecent pictures of children, with offences dating from 2002 to 2006.

The 54-year-old from Amblecote Road, Tilehurst, was locked up for eight months and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for a decade.

One former pupil, who did not want to be named, said: “Everyone I knew was absolutely flabbergasted. Out of anybody you would never have expected it of him.”

In total, police officers discovered an astounding 15,000-plus images in Bowman’s possession. Twenty two of these images were classed at Level Five – the most severe ranking an indecent photograph can have.

He was initially suspected of child porn charges after he was spotted taking snaps of a youngster in a boating lake.

This was revealed at his first hearing at Reading Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, March 18, but until now the Post has been prevented from revealing it.

During this first hearing, the court heard Bowman – when asked why he was taking pictures of the boy – said he found him quite alluring.

Ex-pupils of Bowman have since spoken of their disbelief.

A 24-year-old former student at the Southcote school, who lived in Calcot but now lives in Newbury, said he used to be close to Bowman, who used to be chairman of the Berkshire Junior Badminton League.

He coached him after school in badminton lessons and was friends with his parents. The man, who did not want to be named, said: “I actually knew him personally outside of school as well. He had been round my house for dinner as he was friends with my parents.

“He coached me at badminton as he did with almost everyone in the school. But he never came across as anything other than a really nice chap.

“It is a real shock to the system that someone you thought of as a nice guy actually did this.

“I never noticed anything untoward at all. He just seemed to be interested in making our school one of the best.”

Another former pupil said: “I was really surprised when I learnt he had been arrested. He took some of the games lessons and I have wondered if he came into the showers.

“He seemed a kind, considerate teacher. He often did badminton for charity. I left the school in 1995, but he was there for a long, long time – probably 25 years. He was very well liked.”

Sue Manser, Elvian headteacher, said: “We can confirm Mark Bowman, former teacher of Presentation College, Reading [now The Elvian School] was sentenced to eight months at Oxford Crown Court.

“Mr Bowman had previously pleaded guilty to 14 offences in relation to the possession of and making of indecent images of children.

“Mr Bowman had worked as a maths teacher at the school between September 1981 and July 2006.

“We consider the care, welfare and protection of our pupils as paramount. As soon as the school was informed by police of Mr Bowman’s arrest in July 2006, he was immediately suspended and his teaching contract was terminated.

“We kept all parents informed at this time. Throughout the intervening period the school has fully assisted the police with their investigation. 

“Teachers are in a position of profound trust, and as such, at The Elvian School we ensure all references, checks and information such as Criminal Record Bureau disclosures are conducted thoroughly, as were Mr Bowman’s.”