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Independent inquiry launched into Redbridge music teacher’s abuse of young girls since the 1960s

Tuesday, January 29, 2013
3:51 PM

An independent inquiry will be held to find out how a music teacher was able to abuse girls aged between 11 and 17 at two Redbridge schools since the 1960s.

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Michael Crombie, formerly of Monkhams Avenue, Woodford Green, was jailed for a further three years on Friday for sexual offences during his time as a teacher at the former Beal Grammar School and Wanstead High School in Redbridge Lane West.

Jailing him, Judge Wendy Joseph QC said: “It is clear that complaints were made to schools by a number of girls on a number of occasions, but nobody took any, or any adequate, steps to ensure that this defendant was stopped from preying on girls in his charge.”

The paedophile was jailed for five years in 2010 for charges relating to the systematic abuse of 29 young girls.

Thirty former pupils came forward in the latest case, which relates to a period when he worked first at Beal Grammar School, on the site of the current Seven Kings High School in Ley Street, Seven Kings, from 1964 to 1974, and then at Wanstead High School until 1990.

At the Wanstead school, he repeatedly used bogus breathing exercises as an excuse to touch girls’ bodies, it was said in court.

He groped girls’ breasts and often forcibly kissed them before and after lessons, the court was told.

At Beal, he began a sexual fling with a 14-year-old girl and he manipulated her into performing sex acts on him in the school’s music room cupboard.

The Local Safeguarding Children’s Board will examine his convictions and look into the “safeguarding systems and processes in place” during the period of his offending, a Redbridge Council spokesman said today.

It will also consider legislative changes that have been introduced since 1990 to assess what more could be done today to protect young people, he said.

He added: “The Children’s Services Authority and the few remaining council employees who worked in either school at the same time as Crombie have fully co-operated with the police throughout the investigation.

“All schools are now required to ensure safeguarding is the highest priority.”

Sandy Canavan, prosecuting, told the court: “Given that most of the girls who attended music lessons were aware of the defendant’s behaviour, it is hard to understand why no members of staff shared their suspicions.”

Crombie will serve the three-year term after finishing his current sentence.

He admitted 47 counts of indecent assault and two counts of sexual activity with a child.

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