Teacher given suspended sentence - St Albans

09/05/2012

A St Albans PE teacher was given a suspended jail sentence on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 after a jury found him guilty of touching young girls at the school where he worked.

Giles Rickett, 40, from Hemel Hempstead was found guilty by a jury after a two week trial at St Albans Crown Court of four counts of sexual activity with a child while in a position of trust.  He was given an eight month jail term suspended for two years. However, he was acquitted of seven similar offences.

Judge Stephen Gullick told him his name will be added to the sex offenders' register for the next 10 years.

Rickett, a married man, and department head and form tutor, touched the youngsters inappropriately during sport sessions. His victims were in their early teens and the charges he faced during the trial covered a period from 2010 to 2011.

He had denied all eleven charges against him.

Miss Mary Loram for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said at the start of the trial: "He is a good teacher, liked, and respected by teachers and pupils alike. He is married. It also seems there is another side to him because this trial is about abuse of younger girls who were at the school."

Throughout the trial the prosecution's case had been that the abuse was not of the most serious kind and she said it was quick touching of the youngsters.

The jury were told that the defendant took swimming lesson for the pupils and there would be an element of horseplay where he chased the girls and tickled them.

Miss Loran described the teacher's actions as "opportunistic groping," and the sort an older more mature woman might have even been able to laugh off. But, she went on "They are not adults, they are children."

The jury heard that matters came to light after one of the girls spoke to her mother, who immediately went to the school.

Baljit Ubhey, OBE, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern CPS said: "Giles Rickett was a trusted PE and swimming teacher at the school where all the complainants are pupils.

"The school policy is that teachers would never enter the swimming pool except in an emergency in order to save lives. There were two legitimate swimming clubs, but Mr Rickett decided to set up another club for girls only. He would get into the pool with the girls and throw them around and tickle them. Contrary to school policy, there was no other member of staff present at the time either.

"He would also tickle the young girls as they were getting in and out of the pool and on occasions entered the girls' changing rooms for no reason, whilst they were in a state of undress. When purporting to tickle the girls he would touch them inappropriately, which made them very uncomfortable.

"Mr Rickett was warned by his superiors that this was inappropriate behaviour and he acknowledged that he should not get into the pool with the children. Yet he continued to do so.

"Parents were informed of his behaviour and complained to the school. He was then reported to the police and arrested. In interview he claimed that any inappropriate touching was merely accidental, despite the fact that it happened so regularly to so many different victims.

"Not only did he breach the trust of the pupils at the school, their parents and the staff, he also abused his position of authority in order to gain access to these vulnerable victims. It was only due to the great courage of all these young children that Mr Rickett was discovered, and the full extent of his behaviour revealed.

"I hope that today's outcome gives some sense of closure to the girls involved, and that they they can now put this unpleasant episode behind them and move on with their lives."