Three men have been jailed for sexually abusing a vulnerable female who described how their respective historical crimes had “tainted” her whole life.
One of the men responsible for offending which happened about two decades ago during separate and unconnected incidents was the girl’s teacher.
Mark Craster-Chambers, now aged 54, kissed her while she was a student who had just turned 16 at his South Cumbria school and engaged in further unlawful sexual acts with her.
By that stage, the girl had been sexually abused as a 13-year-old by two other men – Gordon Holliday, now 60, and 63-year-old taxi driver Carl Morgan Donnelly.
For many years, the vulnerable victim didn’t realise what had happened was abuse, Carlisle Crown Court heard. She later went to the police, and the men stood trial.
After hearing all evidence, including the trio’s denials of any wrongdoing, jurors unanimously convicted Craster-Chambers of engaging in sexual activity while in a position of trust.
Donnelly, of The Ferns, Egremont, was convicted of three indecent assault charges and Holliday, of Howbank Road, Egremont, of one indecent assault.
“My whole life has been tainted by their actions,” the woman – who attended their sentencing hearing – said in a moving statement read in court by a detective. “I feel they have robbed me of the remaining years of my childhood, of my education and possible future.”
Of Craster-Chambers, she added: “He was my teacher; he should have known better. Because of him I have spent my whole life anxious around people in positions of trust like doctors, therapists and even in job interviews. I hope he never gets to look after vulnerable children again.”
Recorder Richard Archer jailed Donnelly for six years, Holliday for 42 months and Craster-Chambers, of Preston on Stour, near Stratford-upon-Avon, for 18 months.
As he handed down the prison sentences, Recorder Archer said of the three men‘s offending: “The effect of it is writ large on her face and in her presentation. It is distinct. Different features apply in each of your cases.”
To Craster-Chambers, who rose to the position of deputy head during 26 years in a teaching profession he left in 2016, Recorder Archer said: “You knew full well, in light of the high professional regard in which you were otherwise held, what the law was and why it existed. You broke that law and broke her trust.”
All three men must sign the sex offenders’ register and will be barred from working with children and vulnerable adults.
Speaking after the hearing, Detective Constable Amy Loebell said: “I would like to praise the survivor of these crimes for her courage in not just reporting what had happened to her but also the dignity she showed during the trial. Her strength throughout this process has been humbling.
“I hope that the sentencing can assist her attempts to move on from this abuse.
“I would like to take this opportunity to reassure the public that all allegations of recent or non-recent sexual abuse will be investigated thoroughly by Cumbria Police.”
Anyone wishing to report a crime or speak to an officer about an incident should contact Cumbria Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
If you have been affected by rape or sexual assault, contact The Bridgeway Sexual Assault Support Service’s 24-7 free helpline, 0808 118 6432.