Former Apperley Bridge school caretaker jailed

Wharfedale Observer: Bradford Crown Court Bradford Crown Court

A former school caretaker has been jailed for five years for sexually abusing two young children at his home more than a decade ago.

John Thorpe, 61, molested a girl in his garden shed after they had picked peas together and assaulted a boy with the nozzle of a vacuum cleaner, Bradford Crown Court heard.

Thorpe, of Park Hill Grove, Bingley, was convicted by a jury on six charges of indecency with a child, two of indecent assault and one of indecent assault on a male person.

He was caretaker at Woodhouse Grove School, Apperley Bridge, for six years but had now lost his job, his barrister Geraldine Kelly told the court on Friday.

She handed in “glowing” references for Thorpe, described by Judge Peter Benson as a man of positive good character.

The school spoke very highly of him and he had never done anything wrong while in his post there.

Prosecutor Kirsty Watson said Thorpe’s female victim was left traumatised. She did not complain at the time because she was frightened no one would believe her.

The boy had thought what Thorpe did was amusing but in later years he realised he had been abused.

The first victim said Thorpe sexually abused her in his potting shed more than 20 years ago, when she was aged between seven and nine, after she had helped him pick peas in the garden.

He also told her to take down her knickers before touching her indecently.

The second victim said he was indecently assaulted with a vacuum cleaner nozzle by Thorpe more than ten years ago.

Judge Benson said Thorpe abused the trust of his victims and their families.

He must register as a sex offender for life and an indefinite Sexual Offences Prevention Order bars him from contacting his victims or working with children.

After the case, Detective Inspector Vanessa Smith, of the Bradford District Safeguarding Unit, said: “Thorpe took advantage of his victims’ young ages and vulnerability to carry out indecent assaults on them.

“We would like to thank the victims for their courage in coming forward and hope that the sentence passed down today will help to bring them some closure.

“The Bradford District Safeguarding Unit has specially trained officers who will thoroughly investigate any reports of sexual abuse, whether historic or otherwise, with the aim of bringing the perpetrators to justice.”

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