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Former North Devon teacher jailed for sexually abusing pupils

John Downing was Deputy Headmaster at Heanton school near Barnstaple Credit: Irving of Exeter

A former teacher has been jailed for 21 years for sexually abusing children at a North Devon boarding school in the 1970s and 80s. John Downing was deputy headmaster at Heanton school near Barnstaple until it closed in 1985.

He beat and molested vulnerable pupils over nearly two decades, and faced 39 charges against 7 boys between the ages of 7 and 12. The judge said some of his assaults would now be classified as rape.

Downing went on to teach at other schools in Devon before his retirement.