Convicted Bosham paedophile fails to overturn sentence

Jonathan OBrien, a former teacher at schools in North Worcestershire and Oxfordshire
Jonathan OBrien, a former teacher at schools in North Worcestershire and Oxfordshire

AN ATTEMPT to overturn a 13-year jail term has ended in failure for a paedophile who was convicted last year.

Jonathan O’Brien, 57, was jailed at Chichester Crown Court in May last year after a five-week trial at the end of 2013.

He lived in Fairfield Road, Bosham, and was convicted of 15 charges of indecent assaults on children aged between ten and 15.

The offences took place in the 1980s when he worked as a teacher in Worcestershire and Oxfordshire.

On Thursday, three senior judges at the Court of Appeal, in London, rejected a challenge to his sentence, which his lawyer argued was ‘manifestly excessive’.

Mrs Justice Swift, sitting with Lord Justice Pitchford and Judge Paul Batty QC, said: “We consider the judge was right to say that ‘a graver abuse of trust is difficult to imagine’.

“The total sentence is indeed very substantial, but rightly so, we consider, given the particular circumstances of this case.

“We are satisfied that the total sentence of 13 years reflects the seriousness of these offences and cannot be regarded as manifestly excessive.”

As reported last year by the Observer, the judge who originally sentenced O’Brien, Robert Fraser, said he had left a ‘dark shadow’ over the lives of his victims.

Speaking of the suffering recounted in victim impact statements, he said: “The sentiments expressed reflect the evidence that each of them gave in court – a number of them unable to hold back tears as they were forced to relive your abuse.”

O’Brien was given sentences of eight years, seven years, six years and four years concurrently, with a five-year term to be served consecutively.

He is currently serving his sentence – of which half will be in prison and the other half out on licence.

Mrs Justice Swift said O’Brien taught at the private Winterfold House School, near Kidderminster, when he would sexually abuse pupils in a photographic darkroom.

Later he joined another private school, The Oratory, in Oxfordshire, and continued his exploitation for several years.

The appeal judge said O’Brien would exploit the loneliness of some pupils.

The court heard O’Brien was forced to leave The Oratory in the late 1980s after one of his victims complained to the school.

However, his crimes never came to light until February, 2013, when one of the victims told police.

In the meantime, O’Brien set up his own business 
and married.

Jurors also found him guilty of five counts of gross indecency with a child, however those convictions were later quashed by the Court of Appeal.

O’Brien’s barrister David Whittaker argued Judge Fraser failed to give proper weight to O’Brien’s mitigation, including his lack of offending since the abuse, however the appeal judges disagreed.

They also rejected a bid by O’Brien to challenge the terms of a sexual offences prevention order which bar him from having contact with children after his release. O’Brien claimed the SOPO was ‘disproportionate’ but Mrs Justice Swift said the order was necessary to protect children from O’Brien in the future.