Norfolk teacher, preacher and scout leader indecently assaulted four boys

John Turner who has been jailed after being convicted of indecent assaults against four child victims in the 1970s and 1980s.

John Turner, who has been jailed after being convicted of indecent assaults against four child victims in the 1970s and 1980s. - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary

A former Norfolk teacher, lay preacher, choirmaster and cub scout leader has been exposed as a paedophile after a jury saw through his "carefully constructed camouflage", a court has heard.

John Turner, 75, had been a teacher at Whitefriars school in King's Lynn as well as a lay preacher, choirmaster and cub scout leader in West Winch during the 1970s and 1980s.

Norwich Crown Court heard it was over this time that he committed a string of indecent assaults against four children.

Turner, of Coronation Avenue, West Winch, had denied the offences but was found guilty, following a trial which started in July this year, of nine indecent assaults and three counts of indecency with a child.

Before Turner was sentenced on Wednesday (October 13) the court heard a statement from one of his victims who described how the abuse had "an affect on me mentally" and had affected his confidence "my whole life".

He said the abuse has resulted in him being a "very nervous person" and described the torment he has felt as a result of Turner's offending.

Whitefriars School in Lynn.

Whitefriars school in King's Lynn where convicted sex offender John Turner once taught. - Credit: Matt Usher

The victim said: "There's not been a day that's gone by that I've not thought about this."

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But he also told of the relief he felt at being able to finally "tell people what had happened".

One of Turner's victims died after making a complaint to police, but his sister made a statement about the effect of Turner's offending on her brother in an impact statement which was seen by the court.

Jailing Turner for a total of 16 years, Judge Maureen Bacon said by their verdicts the jury had “rejected his denials and carefully constructed camouflage and found what lay beneath it".

Judge Bacon said the persona Turner had built up in the church, and also as a teacher and cub scout leader, was "more important" to him than the sexual abuse of the victims.

She insisted his “accomplished deceit gave you free rein to abuse those boys that you had been entrusted to care for".

Character references had been read out on behalf of Turner but while Judge Bacon accepted that he might have presented to some as someone who "did as much as you could for others" he had in fact "deceived" them too.

When he was referred to as a paedophile as he was sentenced Turner shook his head in the dock and tried to address the judge, but Judge Bacon told the security officer to take him down.

Taylor initially refused and hung onto the glass in the dock to stop the officer but after a struggle was led away.

Nicholas Bleaney, mitigating, said it was inevitable Turner would receive a sentence of some length.

He said the sentencing hearing represented a "spectacular fall from grace" for Turner who has "no-one to blame but himself".

Mr Bleaney said: "Everything he's worked for and stood for lies in ruins now."

Turner was also made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) indefinitely and must sign on the sex offenders register indefinitely.

He was also made the subject of a restraining order meaning he cannot contact one of the victims in the case indefinitely as well as one of the other complainants in the case.

In a statement issued after sentencing, a spokesman for the Diocese of Norwich said they were sorry to all those affected and "commended the bravery of those who brought these allegations forward".

The spokesman added that Turner was suspended from his role as a Licenced Lay Minister when the Diocese was alerted to the police investigation in 2018.

They said: "The Diocese of Norwich remains committed to doing everything possible to ensure the wellbeing of children, young people and adults, who look to us for respect and care."

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