Great Britain

Teacher Mark Craster-Chambers jailed for abusing teen, 13

A DEVASTATED woman had her whole life “tainted” by sex crimes she suffered as a teenager at the hands of three men - one of whom was her teacher.

The trio’s offending occurred during separate and unconnected incidents around two decades ago.

Mark Craster-Chambers, 54, was seen kissing the female student of his south Cumbria school in a car shortly after she turned 16. He also engaged in further unlawful sexual acts with her at his house on other occasions, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

Years later, after Craster-Chambers contacted the woman through social media, she called police and reported illegal activity. She also told of being sexually assaulted by two other men while aged just 13.

“She didn’t report anything at the time,” said prosecutor David Traynor. “She didn’t even realise that what had happened was abuse for many years.”

After a trial earlier this year, jurors unanimously convicted Craster-Chambers of two charges of engaging in sexual activity while in a position of trust. He denied there was any sexual relationship between them.

Carl Morgan Donnelly, 63, of The Ferns, Egremont, was convicted of three indecent assault crimes committed while he was a taxi driver, and 60-year-old Gordon Holliday, of Howbank Road, Egremont, of one indecent assault offence. Both said there was respective sexual activity involving the girl but claimed this happened only after she turned 16.

As the trio were sentenced, a deeply moving impact statement was read on the woman’s behalf by a detective. “My whole life has been tainted by their actions,” she stated. “Even now...I am still just coming to terms with the devastating impact their actions have had on my life. I feel they have robbed me of the remaining years of my childhood, of my education and possible future.”

Addressing each defendant in turn, she said of Holliday: “I had to carry the dirty little secret of what he did to me which resulted in a total loss of self-worth.”

Of Donnelly, the woman stated: “The damage he did to my life is immeasurable.”

The woman, present in court as the men were punished, concluded: “I will walk out of this room today and I will go on trying to build a beautiful life and future for myself.

"Although these men have destroyed parts of me, I know now how strong I am, and them being found guilty has finally taken away my own guilt that I have carried for so long.”

As he passed sentence, Recorder Archer told the three men of their offending: “The effect of it is written on her face and in her presentation. It is distinct. Different features apply in each of your cases.”

Jailing Donnelly for six years, Recorder Archer told him: “You treated her as your sexual play-thing.”

Holliday, locked up for 42 months, was told: “You used her for your own sexual gratification.”

Craster-Chambers, of Preston on Stour, near Stratford-upon-Avon, was jailed for 18 months.

“You knew full well, in light of the high professional regard in which you were otherwise held, what the law was and why it existed,” the judge said. “You broke that law and broke her trust.”

He added: “Your previous good character and your exemplary conduct is of some relevance in reducing the length of the sentence. But to an extent, even at the time, it allowed you to commit the offence without anyone suspecting.”

All three men must sign the sex offenders’ register and will be barred from working with children and vulnerable adults.

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