HMA v Frederick Wilson Talbot

At Lanark Sheriff Court today, Sheriff Nikola Stewart sentenced Frederick Talbot to four years imprisonment after the accused was found guilty of indecently assaulting school children.

On sentencing, Sheriff Stewart made the following statement in court:

“You have been convicted on 7 charges involving the indecent assault of school pupils over a period of approximately 4 years, from 1978 to 1981. The pupils targeted by you were between 15 and 17 years of age and all attended Altringham Grammer School for boys at which you taught. All trusted and liked you and were keen to go on camping and sailing trips organised by you both informally and as official school trips. That trust and affection was grossly abused by you on repeated occasions as you preyed upon young boys, some away from home and their parents’ care for the first time, and all utterly unsuspecting of the sexual threat you posed to them. 

Those were more innocent times and you took advantage of the innocence of your victims, their high regard for you and the power you had over them as supervising teacher, to place yourself and individual victims in situations where you had the opportunity to indecently assault them whilst knowing that they would be unlikely to bring your disgraceful behaviour to the attention of others.

The clear pattern evident in terms of location, frequency and circumstances of approach and mode of assault leaves it beyond doubt that these trips were organised by you with sexual exploitation of the boys in your care very much in mind. The alcohol which was freely available with your full knowledge and encouragement, fed into the facilitation of your sexual approaches. 

I am told that you do not accept that you were engaged in grooming your victims. Unfortunately for your victims, they were unaware of any such concept at the time and therefore unable to recognise your familiarity and liberality as a means to an end and, for most of them, too embarrassed and disempowered to report it to others.

These elements of cynical manipulation of the power and opportunities presented to you as teacher, and utter disregard for the duties imposed upon you in respect of these boys, together with the descriptions of the abuse you perpetrated upon them, inform the sentence I impose upon you

I note that whilst you report concern about the damage you have done it is far from clear to me whether the damage you refer to relates to your victims, or only the damage to your life and career brought about by the coming to light of your systematic abuse of schoolboys entrusted to your care. That certainly is the view of the reporting social worker and nothing I have heard causes me to disagree. Certainly, by denying your guilt and insisting upon a trial you put each one of your victims through further trauma. I applaud their sense of selfless social responsibility in coming forward. I note that none were motivated by revenge or ill will. Each wanted to support other potential victims by telling their story.

The only appropriate sentence in this case is a lengthy custodial sentence. I take into account that you are currently serving a sentence of 5 years imposed by an English court in 2015 for directly analogous offences committed subsequently to these offences and in recognition of that, and of your age, I restrict the sentence imposed by me to one of 4 years in cumulo of the charges on the indictment, to take effect on the expiry of the punishment part of your current sentence.

I have already certified that the offences of which you have been convicted are ones which attract the notification provision of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.  This means that you must register your name and address with the police so that your name is added to the Sex Offenders Register. I should make it clear that this is your personal responsibility: the court does not put your on the register; you must do this yourself. If you fail to do so, or fail to keep your details up to date, you will be committing an offence. The clerk of court will give you a notice setting out the various requirements. These notification requirements will endure for an indefinite period.”