A music teacher has been convicted of 32 sexual offences against girls in his school.
Ben Breakwell, 40 (17.10.1980) of Monkgate, York, was convicted on Monday, 2 August after a trial at Isleworth Crown Court.
He was remanded in custody and will be sentenced at the same court on a date to be determined.
From 2014 until the end of 2017, Breakwell worked at a school in west London.
The court heard how he abused his position as a music teacher to engage his young pupils in sexual activity.
The offences related to sexual activity with three girls whose ages ranged from 13 to 16 and indecent images of a fourth.
As Breakwell’s offences came to light, a pattern emerged showing how he carefully groomed the girls in order take advantage of them.
Breakwell began a full sexual relationship with two of his victims when they were aged just 13 and 14.
A third victim, who was the object of Breakwell’s attention, received flattery and supportive messages from him.
During a lesson, Breakwell took advantage of their proximity to kiss her.
The girl was upset and later told her friends and then her mother who confronted Breakwell.
Breakwell denied he had deliberately kissed her.
The victim later told police that she felt guilty about what had happened as she had bought him a box of sweets as a thank you present and thought that this may have encouraged him.
She was also worried that there was nothing to support her account if she decided to tell the school. For these reasons no formal complaint was made.
However, in September 2017, the friends of one of the victims approached a member of school staff. They told him of their suspicion about this inappropriate relationship involving Breakwell,
The school immediately suspended him, police were alerted and an investigation began, led by specialist officers from the West Area Command Unit.
After gathering evidence and speaking to the victims, Breakwell was arrested in November 2017.
A search of his computer uncovered indecent images of another victim who did not live in this country, this girl was successfully traced by investigating officers and she and her family have been spoken to.
Breakwell was interviewed about the matters, but denied that any sexual relationship had taken place between him and the girls.
In February 2020, he was charged with multiple sexual offences.
Detective Constable Ben Lawrence-Smith said: “My thoughts are with the young girls who were betrayed by Breakwell. They have all been incredibly brave and it is their courage in speaking out that has brought him to justice.
“Breakwell deceived and abused these girls and then sought to evade any responsibility for his actions.
They were manipulated to the point where some felt it was they who were doing wrong.
The fact Breakwell was a teacher only compounds this gross betrayal of trust.
“It is clear that Breakwell was a sexual predator who carefully manipulated these young girls in order to exploit them.
His victims were very young and he led them to believe they were in love with him, knowing that if they cared for him they were less likely to alert anyone to his crimes.
“It can be difficult for victims of sexual offences, especially when their abusers are people in positions of power and trust, to speak out.
I would ask that if you suspect anyone to be at risk from similar manipulation and abuse, please tell someone, either a parent, a carer or someone in authority.
“Due to the predatory nature of Breakwell’s crimes, it is possible there are further victims who have yet to come forward.
If you or someone you know has been affected by Breakwell’s offending, or you have been a victim of a sexual offence, please come forward to police.
Specially trained officers will be there to listen and support all allegations and work to bring offenders to justice.”
Paedophile music teacher who collected 1,500 child abuse pictures spared jail so he can ‘kick dreadful habit’
A music teacher who collected child abuse pictures over a period of 15 years has been spared jail so he can “kick this dreadful habit”.
Walton Cliffe, 69, was arrested after police raided his home and found a stash of more than 1,500 indecent images he had amassed since 2005.
His computer was seized and officers discovered he had 1,502 images of children, both girls and boys, including 83 in the most serious category.
He was also found to have been in contact with other paedophiles online, where he had discussed buying naked pictures of a 14-year-old girl he knew.
Cliffe, of Rugby, Warwickshire, admitted distributing indecent images of children, making indecent images of children and possessing the images.
He also admitted possessing a prohibited image of a child, two charges of possessing extreme pornography and two of publishing an obscene article.
On Monday he was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years.
Recorder John Steel QC said that Cliffe had shown “clear remorse and shame” and had submitted himself to rehabilitation.
Steel told Cliffe: “It is clear you wish to kick this dreadful habit which you have had in the shadows for many years. It is now in the open.
The probation service recommend that rehabilitation of you is not available if you were to go to prison.
“That being the case, it is right that the sentence be suspended.”
Justin Jarmola, defending, said Cliffe was “a man who is essentially of good character, of some age, with a loving and supportive family”.
He added: “Mr Cliffe does not present a risk or a danger to the public.”
Cliffe was also given a 7pm-7am curfew for 50 days and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.