Apperley Bridge school caretaker faces prison for sex abuse

John Thorpe is facing prison

John Thorpe is facing prison

First published in Local news Wharfedale Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A school caretaker convicted of sexually abusing two young children more than a decade ago has been suspended from his job and warned by a judge to expect a jail sentence.

John Thorpe, 60, of Park Hill Grove, Bingley, was found guilty at Bradford Crown Court of all nine offences alleged against him.

Thorpe, caretaker at Woodhouse Grove School, Apperley Lane, Apperley Bridge, for six years, showed no emotion in the dock as Judge Peter Benson told him: “The jury has convicted you on all counts and you must expect a custodial sentence of some length.”

During the trial, a young woman said Thorpe sexually abused her in his potting shed more than 20 years ago after she had helped him pick peas in the garden.

She was aged between six and nine when he asked her to hold him intimately while he urinated into a bucket because his hands were dirty.

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

Thorpe went on to sexually abuse a nine-year-old boy with a Henry vacuum cleaner ten years later. The child and Thorpe would both urinate into a bucket when playing pool in the garage.

The boy, now a young man, told how Thorpe indecently assaulted him with the vacuum cleaner nozzle, used a magnifying glass on his own body and asked the boy to look through it.

Thorpe was convicted of six offences against the girl and three involving the boy. They included indecency with a child, indecent assault and indecent assault on a male person.

After the jury’s verdicts, Thorpe’s barrister, Geraldine Kelly, told the court he had been suspended from his job.

Judge Benson extended Thorpe’s bail until he is sentenced on January 31. He told him he must sign on the sex offender register.

After the hearing, Peter Thompson, operations director at Woodhouse Grove School, said Thorpe had been suspended from his caretaker role in December when the school became aware of the charges.

He said: “The school is aware of the charges brought against Mr Thorpe.

“He is currently on a period of extended leave until the conclusion of the case.

“John Thorpe is a committed, loyal and reliable member of staff, whose probity and integrity have never before been brought into question.

“In appointment he underwent full pre-recruitment checks, including criminal records checks which were clear, and he has subsequently proved himself to be a reliable and trustworthy employee.”

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