September 2023

Former teacher jailed for abusing pupils under his care

A former secondary school teacher has been jailed after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting two pupils under his care.

Russell Tillson denied a string of allegations relating to abuse which began in the 1980s but was convicted after a trial at Maidstone Crown Court.

Allegations which related to Tillson’s employment at Tonbridge School were first made to Kent Police in 2018.

An investigation led to evidence he committed offences over a period spanning almost 20 years, in both the classroom and in a private residence he held at the school.

Tillson occupied a senior role and any decisions he made could have a significant influence on pupils’ future educational aspirations. He exploited this influence to make advances on victims, including one incident when a boy was offered an enhanced university reference, that Tillson suggested could be achieved by ‘unconventional methods.’

Tillson was arrested in October 2020 and during police interviews denied all allegations put to him, dismissing them as ‘fiction’. He was charged with five counts of indecent assault but denied any wrongdoing and the case went to trial, where an additional count of the same offence was added.

Aged 73, of Ship Close, Dymchurch, Tillson was convicted on four counts. The jury returned not guilty verdicts on the other two charges.

On Friday 1 September 2023, he was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court to five years and eight months. He was also given a 15-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order.