Former Headmaster Sentenced For Child Abuse

6 September 2010, 14:59

61-year-old Derek Slade, who now lives in Burton on Trent, has today been sentenced to 21 years in prison for abusing schoolboys during the 1970's and 1980's.

He was found guilty of more than 50 offences at Ipswich Crown Court last week.

Derek Slade was headmaster at St George's School between January 1978 and March 1983. The school relocated from Wicklewood in Norfolk to Great Finborough in Suffolk in 1980 and was a boarding school for boys aged 6 to 17. No allegations have been received against Finborough School which is located on the former St George's School site in Suffolk. There is a primary school in Wicklewood in Norfolk which is unconnected.

In June 2000 Suffolk Police received a complaint of assault by Derek Slade from a former pupil at St George's School, Great Finborough. Inquiries were carried out and efforts were made to trace Slade, but he was not located. This inquiry remained open.

In March 2008 Suffolk Police received a complaint of historic abuse by Derek Slade from a former pupil at St George's School, Wicklewood. This complaint was passed to Norfolk Police.

In March 2009 Suffolk Police received a complaint of historic abuse by Derek Slade from a former pupil at St George's School, Great Finborough. The 2000 complaint was reviewed and as the investigation progressed, further complaints were received and Suffolk Police began to work closely with the Crown Prosecution Service's Complex Case Unit. In joining the Suffolk and Norfolk investigations together in January 2010, the inquiry continued with officers and staff from the Joint Major Investigation Team, led by Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Adrian Randall of Suffolk Constabulary's Child Abuse Investigation Unit.

Enquiries to trace Slade were carried out with the assistance of Derbyshire Police and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre. In February 2010, Derek Slade was arrested in Derbyshire following intelligence from CEOP's Tracker Team. In his possession was a fraudulent passport. Searches were carried out at addresses in Mickleover and Burton Upon Trent with the assistance of Derbyshire and Staffordshire Police, and further documents and computer equipment were seized. Slade was taken into custody in Derbyshire before being transferred to Bury St Edmunds Police Station in Suffolk. He was charged with a number of offences.

Officers from the Suffolk Constabulary Hi-Tech Crime Unit forensically examined two hard drives containing thousands of indecent images of children graded as levels 1 and 3 on the copine scale. 

Derek Slade pleaded guilty to 16 charges of making indecent images of children, possession of almost 4,500 indecent images of children and being in possession of a false passport in May 2010. He admitted 20 offences of indecent assault (15) and assault ABH (5) in July and August 2010 and was found guilty of additional offences of assault ABH (six), indecent assault (four) and serious sexual assault (three) in September 2010.

After his conviction last week, Detective Inspector Adrian Randall told Heart, "Derek Slade was obviously a headmaster at a school. He was in a position of trust and clearly has as seen in the information that's come out in the case, it's a complete gross breach of that trust - both to the parents who sent their children there and with the children themselves."

He also praised the bravery of the victims for coming forward, "Many of them have actually got children of perhaps a similar age of when they were at school and that's made them reflect and I pay tribute to them for actually having the trust in coming forward and speaking to the police and putting themselves forward to a Crown Court in very difficult circumstances."

Derek's Slade's victims have made the following statement:

"Our time at St George's has had a profound effect on our lives. Derek Slade created a culture of fear and suffering where casual violence and institutionalised brutality was enforced, tolerated and later accepted by everyone, pupils and staff alike. He stole our childhoods. What should have been the happiest years of our lives were turned into the most fearful.

"Our time at St George's will never be forgotten. The process of giving evidence has been extremely traumatic, not only for us but also our families, but a great weight has begun to lift as a result of this trial. Derek Slade should never have the opportunity to come into contact with children again."

Cliff James, Head of Safeguarding. Suffolk County Council, says,

"This is a case of historic abuse which happened 30 years ago but the pain of the victims is something which they have had to live with for a long time. We would encourage adults who have experienced abuse in their childhood to come forward and disclose this to the police and Social Care Services so that they can access appropriate support and also ensure that the matter is fully investigated.

"Mr Slade was in a position of trust and was responsible for the care and protection of children in his role as a Head Teacher. It is only by reporting incidents of abuse that we can ensure that professionals that have breached the trust and confidence placed in them are removed from the children's workforce and are prevented from having access to children and young people.

"By working closely with the Police, safeguarding managers from the County Council have been able to ensure that appropriate action is taken to investigate the concerns and that Mr Slade will now be barred from working with children."