Bosham man ‘categorically’ denies abusing teenagers in the 1980s

Jonathan O'Brien, 55, of Fairfield Road, Bosham PICTURE BY EDDIE MITCHELL
Jonathan O'Brien, 55, of Fairfield Road, Bosham PICTURE BY EDDIE MITCHELL

A FORMER teacher has dismissed as ‘preposterous’ claims he abused a string of teenage pupils during the 1980s.

Jonathan O’Brien, 55, of Fairfield Road, Bosham, took to the stand this week after three weeks of prosecution evidence against him.

He is accused of committing 22 sex offences while teaching at two private schools– Winterfold House School, near Kidderminster, and The Oratory, near Reading.

Charges against him include indecent assault of a boy under 14, indecently assaulting a boy under 16 and gross indecency with a boy under 14.

O’Brien has denied all wrongdoing, saying he did not even remember teaching one of the alleged victims.

The prosecution alleged O’Brien took boys to the Winterfold House school’s photography dark room and proceeded to show them pornography after locking the door.

However, O’Brien told the court the dark room had two entrances and the main one did not even have a lock or a handle.

“I have no recollection of any pornography at that school in my entire time there,” he added.

The court heard O’Brien bought a house in Deddington, Oxfordshire, in 1985, which some of the boys helped to paint.

Richard Fisher, defending, asked whether he had engaged in any sexual activity at the house with pupils, to which he replied ‘absolutely not’.

He admitted he regularly took boys back to the house to stay in the attic spare room and meet his friends in the local pub, but denied any ‘subterfuge’ took place by doing this.

The room had a burgundy-coloured visitors book, where people who stayed wrote their names and comments.

“If someone stayed overnight they signed the visitors’ book,” he said.

“As far as I know, I kept a record of everyone but if they left having forgotten to sign it or I had forgotten to put it in front of them I would write their names in.”

He also described one allegation of an assault in the showers after a rugby competition, as ‘preposterous’.

During the first three weeks of the trial, the jury heard from a several prosecution witnesses, including O’Brien’s alleged victims, who spoke about their experiences at his hands.

Talking about his arrest at his Bosham home in February, O’Brien said he was ‘completely overwhelmed’ by family events.

“I had hardly slept,” he said. “Obviously I was extremely worried and distressed, particularly for my wife but also for the whole family.”

O’Brien was originally facing 28 charges but the jury was directed to return a verdict of not guilty on four after the prosecution did not present sufficient evidence and another two were discharged.

The trial continues.