Former housefather and housemaster jailed for ‘preying on’ boys at Sheringham boarding school

Bryan Greenhalgh. Bryan Greenhalgh.

Thursday, June 19, 2014
4:16 PM

The housefather of a former Norfolk boarding school has today been found guilty of a number of sexual offences dating back to the 1970s.

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Kenneth Wells.Kenneth Wells.

Ken Wells, 76, of Bracken Dale, Leicester, was convicted of three counts of indecent assault following an eight-day trial at Norwich Crown Court.

The offences took place at the former Sheringham Court School in the 1970s and related to a male victim under the age of 16.

Sentencing Wells to six years in prison Judge Catherine Moore said “You exploited the opportunity to satisfy your own sexual gratifications.....your duty was to protect the children at the school.” Judge Moore added: “Your victim has been profoundly affected in his life.”

Wells was found not guilty of four other counts of indecent assault - three of which did not relate to Sheringham Court School.

Wells’ conviction comes three months after a former headmaster of the same school pleaded guilty to 13 counts of indecent assault and one count of buggery.

Bryan Greenhalgh, 63, previously of Suffield near North Walsham, admitted the offences at Norwich Crown Court on March 6.

The charges related to eight male victims under 16. The majority took place at Sheringham Court School and Thurlby Manor in Norfolk and Lincolnshire between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s. Greenhalgh was also sentenced for possession of indecent images found on his home computer when officers arrested him for the offences at Sheringham and Thurlby.

Describing Greenhalgh as “a very high risk sex offender” Judge Nicholas Coleman handed him a discretionary life sentence at Norwich Crown Court on June 16.

Speaking after the sentencing, investigating officer DC Tristan Coull, of Norfolk Constabulary’s child abuse investigation unit, said: “Greenhalgh’s life sentence clearly shows that he exploited his position as headmaster to win over the trust of the boys in his care and subjected them to horrendous abuse.

“He preyed on boys who were at their most vulnerable and who at the time of the abuse felt unable to speak out as he appeared to be an upstanding pillar of the community.

“Wells in addition abused his position of trust at Sheringham Court and failed in his duty to ensure his victim was safe.

“Through the positions they held, it would have been the most basic of expectations to protect these children; instead they chose to do the complete opposite.”

Sheringham Court School was opened in 1975 as a boarding school for boys with behavioural issues.

The school closed in around 1980 when it was relocated to Lincolnshire and became Thurlby Manor operating until 1983.

The investigation unit launched Operation Alamo in November 2012 after being contacted by a former pupil alleging abuse at Sheringham Court by Greenhalgh and Wells.

Investigations unearthed seven more victims who confirmed they were assaulted at the hands of Greenhalgh.

Det Insp Andy Coller, who led the investigation, said: “It has taken an enormous amount of courage for each victim to talk about the abuse, abuse they have had to live with for decades.

“It is pleasing that the passing of some 40 years has not hindered the legal process and that Greenhalgh and Wells have both been jailed for these crimes.

“Time may make our investigations more complicated, but it will not stop them. We will robustly investigate any offences brought to our attention, however old they may be. It is to their credit that those boys, now men, have found the strength to speak up after so many years.”

Andrew Shaw, for Greenhalgh said he deserved credit for his guilty plea.

He added: “Any sentence should not be so long as to give him no hope of release to enjoy the twilight years of his life.”

He said Greenhalgh also had a number of health problems.

“He does not enjoy the best of health.”

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