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Special needs teacher from Bury St Edmunds is accused of molesting ‘vulnerable’ pupil

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A teacher at a special needs school groomed an 11-year-old boy for sex with gifts of beer, cigarettes and silk swimming trunks, a court has heard.

Richard Alston, 70, of Robin Hood Court, Bury St Edmunds, first molested the pupil after he fell from a climbing frame in the grounds of a Middlesex school in the late 1970s, it is alleged.

Over the next three years Alston abused the ‘vulnerable’ and ‘needy’ child at whim with his paedophile boyfriend Peter Righton, who has since died, Southwark Crown Court heard yesterday.

When the boy turned 16 he decided to confront the pair but was scared into silence after Righton boasted of his ‘connections to powerful people’, jurors were told

In his opening address to jurors, prosecutor Peter Clement said: “The case is about indecent assault and indecency with and towards the same person dating back some 30 years.

“At the time the complainant was a child. By virtue of not only his age - he was aged around 11 when this sequence of events begins - but also his personal circumstance, the prosecution suggest that the complainant was vulnerable.

“This defendant was in a position which brought with it a considerable degree of trust, not only of the child who he was charged with caring and educating but also the child’s parents and also the trust of colleagues at the same school.

“This defendant exploited and breached that trust that came with his position and he breached it for his own sexual gratification.

“It is indicative, the prosecution suggests, of what is commonly referred to and understood as the grooming of that child.

“Grooming so as to enable the abuse to take place and to ensure that boys silence for many, many years continuing into adulthood.

“It was all under the guise of caring for and being kind to the complainant.”

Alston forced the boy to perform sex acts and also involved his partner in the abuse, the court heard.

“On occasions the defendant’s then partner, now deceased, a man called Peter Righton, was actively involved - two men acting indecently towards that same boy,” said Mr Clement.

The court heard that the school’s regime was ‘relaxed’ with students ‘relatively free to roam around the school grounds’ and pupils calling teachers by their first names.

Mr Clement said Alston ‘by all accounts was a popular, well liked, successful teacher’.

He added: “That boy, described by one form teacher as a needy child, was at that point expected to refer to his teachers by their first names and he grew to regard them as friends.

“The boy found the defendant to be friendly and approachable but he was to describe him as touchy-feely.

“There were boundaries in the 1970s and there are today - this defendant crossed them deliberately for his own sexual gratification.”

Alston first touched the child while comforting him following a fall from a climbing frame at the school, jurors heard.

Mr Clement said: “Richard Alston went over purportedly to comfort him by hugging him, embracing him, but in doing so he ran his hands over the boy’s back and over his genitals over his clothes.

“It was a deliberate touching of that boy’s genitals.”

Alston was attempting to ‘gauge the reaction’ of the child and to see if he would say anything, jurors heard.

He later plied the boy with gifts of beer and cigarettes and tipped him generously when he, as a paperboy, delivered to his door, the court was told.

It is claimed that when Righton, who was Alston’s boyfriend at the time, gave the boy a ‘pair of silken swimming trunks’, the couple asked him to parade in front of them.

“It was a purposefully quasi-sexual act in the mind of both the defendant and his then partner,” said Mr Clement.

It is alleged the victim was also shown pornographic films and would watch the screen as the couple, and a friend, looked on.

“By this point the prosecution suggest this defendant and his partner had something of a hold over this boy,” said Mr Clement.

The boy decided to confront the pair at their home shortly after his 16th birthday but Righton scared him into keeping his silence, the court heard.

“He confronted him about what he had been subjected to but Peter Righton dismissed his complaint and told him that he, Righton, had connections to powerful people, that the boy had no evidence and that no-one would believe him and that worked because the complainant didn’t say anything for many, many years,” said Mr Clement.

It was only when researching a book that the alleged victim stumbled across an article about Righton asking for information and plucked up the courage to contact investigators.

Alston denies six charges of indecent assault and four charges of indecency with a child.

The trial continues.