December 2008

Horse riding instructor jailed for three years for sexually abusing four young girl pupils

A riding instructor who sexually abused four of his young girl pupils was jailed for three years today.

James Coby of Watford groomed the girls – going on to have a full consensual sexual relationship with one of them.

He was caught when one girl he had tried to kiss saw him lying on a sofa in a tack room with a 13-year-old.

Sentencing the 47-year-old, Judge John Plumstead said: ‘This girl was 13 years old and horse mad. You were an accomplished horseman and her teacher and she looked up to you. She was bedazzled and had what has been called a ‘crush’ on you.

‘To your disgrace and shame you took advantage of this and touched her over her clothes, then under her clothes. 

‘That you did not admit this meant the girl had to answer some distressing questions under cross examination.

‘But the jury, and for the record I, believed her story. In the end you desisted when she asked you to. 

‘If it had gone a fraction further I don’t know what would have happened. The consequences could have been disastrous.’  

Father-of-three Coby taught riding to youngsters for the last 15 years. 

He also traded in horses and rented stables in Mill Hill, North London and Bushey near Watford, Hertfordshire where he gave riding lessons to individual students and to groups.

Prosecutor Edward Lewis told St Albans crown court: ‘He had a particular penchant for teenagers aged 13 to 17.’  

The girl who saw Coby with the 13 year old told the jury he had cornered her on a sofa in 2006 in the tack room.

‘He tried to kiss me, he was holding me down. He was towering over me. He did kiss me but I pushed him away saying “Try that again and I’ll f****** kill you.” 

‘He got me on the lips, but it was more of a peck because I pushed him off. 

‘He said to me “I have liked you for ages and that he did love me”.’

The girl said when she pushed him he stumbled back and she walked out.

She said the following year, 2007, she crept up the stairs to the tack room at the Bushey stables to find Coby on the sofa with the other girl, who she knew to be around 13 years old.

‘When I came upstairs I looked around the corner and I saw him and the girl on the couch together. 

‘They were lying down and she was underneath him. It looked like they were kissing…he was on top of her. 

‘It looked like they were kissing because their heads were together.’  

She said the girl had her arms around Coby as if she was pulling him closer. The girl said both were unaware of her and so she crept back down the stairs and went out.

As a result she said she spoke to her family and the police were contacted.

She told the court on occasions she had seen the defendant and the 13 year old walking out into the fields together. 

She continued: ‘They would be without a horse and come back without a horse,” 

She said she had also seen him pick the girl up from school in his Jaguar car.

The 13-year-old was to tell the police Coby had tried to put his tongue in her mouth, had put his hand down her jodhpurs and had put his hand down her bra.

Coby also tried to kiss a 17-year-old as she bent over, putting horse feed into a bucket at stables in Mill Hill, North London in 2004 . That girl, who was later to have consensual sex with him, pulled away, it was claimed.

The fourth victim told how she ‘froze’ when Coby kissed her on the lips after he had given her a riding book for her 16th birthday in 1999. 

He stood with his legs either side of her as she sat on the sofa and told her he loved her and tried to kiss her again. He put his left hand over her clothes and touched her breast.

Coby was arrested in September last year. He said the allegation by the 15-year-old was made up because he had sold a horse she liked. 

He denied anything had happened with the 13-year-old. He said he had been in a consensual sexual relationship with the third complainant when she was over age. 

He said the fourth victim used to flirt with him. He said he had once hugged her and tried to kiss her but she pushed him away. He told the jury he had been the victim of a conspiracy.

Coby of Balmoral Road, Watford, Hertfordshire, was convicted of sex assaults on four different girls. Two charges of indecent assault and five of sexual activity with a child.

Judge Plumstead also banned him indefinitely from working with children under the age of 16.