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Former headteacher jailed for abusing boys

Three former members of staff at Oakwood School in Suffolk have been sentenced following two trials at Ipswich Crown Court.

Former Oakwood headteacher Eric De Smith, 76, of Danes Close in Stowmarket, was found guilty on seven charges at a trial in March and April – four offences of indecent assault and three offences of indecency with a child. Reporting of this case was restricted while a second trial, involving four men, went ahead during April and May.

Two of the men involved in this second trial – former deputy headteacher Gerald West and child care officer Michael Watts – each admitted two charges of cruelty to a child under 16 and all charges have dropped against the two other defendants.

Today, Friday 22 May, Eric De Smith was jailed for seven years while West, 71, of Martins Meadow, Gislingham, and Watts, 59, from Southampton were given conditional discharges for a year and ordered to pay costs.

Two police officers dismissed for gross misconduct

Essex Police Credit: ITV News Anglia

Essex Police have dismissed two officers for gross misconduct.

The officers, who were based at Braintree, were dismissed following a four-day hearing before a panel chaired by Assistant Chief Constable Maurice Mason. They were found to have breached standards of behaviour in relation to honesty and integrity, discreditable conduct and duties and responsibilities.

Both officers were found to have failed in their duties when they attended a domestic abuse incident in August 2014.

The panel accepted that both officers had failed to fully investigate an allegation of assault and subsequently, false information was recorded on the matter.

One of the officers was found to have been in breach of standards for failing to apply for a business interest when he bought and sold a number of car parts using an on-line auction site. The panel also agreed that he had abused his position by using information obtained while on duty to buy a vehicle and sell it at an apparent profit and then recorded false information on the vehicle registration document.

Both officers were dismissed without notice when the panel announced their decisions on Thursday May 21.

ACC Mason said:

Essex Police has strived for a number of years to improve our service to victims of domestic abuse and it will not tolerate officers who fail to meet the standard of service to vulnerable victims. The panel found that both officers failed to investigate an allegation of domestic abuse therefore letting down a vulnerable victim. Consequently the panel was in agreement that both officers were to be dismissed without notice.”

– ACC Mason
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