Sept 1999

Art teacher jailed for sex assaults

A teacher has been jailed for a series of indecent assaults on two girl pupils.

Chelmsford Crown Court was told yesterday that Paul Hilton’s behaviour left the teenagers devastated. They have both tried to kill themselves.

Hilton, 54, was head of art at a north Essex school and the court heard how the girls – both aged 15 – were in his art class at different times.

He became friends with them and Amanda Rippon, prosecuting, told the court that his first victim was taken to a cupboard in his art department and indecently assaulted in November 1996.

This was followed by other indecent assaults in the art department and at Hilton’s home in Newcastle Avenue, Colchester.

Hilton admitted a total of six indecent assaults involving the two girls between November 1996 and March 1998 when he appeared in court. He denied ten other indecency charges and they were left on the file.

Judge Ben Pearson jailed him for a total of three years.

Hilton – a teacher at the school for 24 years – was also put on the sex offenders’ register for the rest of his life.

“The statements of the mothers of these two girls make appalling reading. Your behaviour has had quite disastrous consequences for them. They have threatened suicide,” he said.

Martyn Zeidman QC, mitigating, produced references from Hilton’s former colleagues and friends to show he was highly regarded.

This had been a devastating blow to Hilton, he said, and there was no chance of him ever teaching art again.

“He set out to provide these girls with the best education but he ruined the very thing he had set out to do by his behaviour,” Mr Zeidman added.