A SOMERSET man has been jailed for 12 years for child sex offences he carried out while he was deputy head teacher at a school in Yorkshire.

Ian David Charles Atkinson, 59, from Brompton Regis on Exmoor but formerly of Staveley, Ripon, was jailed on Wednesday after being found guilty of nine offences following a six-day trial at Bradford Crown Court.

The offences include six charges of indecent assault on a boy, one charge of inciting a boy to commit an act of gross indecency with him, and two of making (downloading) indecent images of children.

Four of the offences took place in Hampshire where Atkinson also taught and the remainder happened in Ripon. The contact offences occurred in the 1990s and 2000s and the indecent images were discovered in 2015 when officers seized Atkinson’s laptop following his arrest.

He was also placed on the sex offenders register for life and issued with a sexual harm prevention order.

Following sentencing, investigating officer, Detective Constable Fiona Ayre of North Yorkshire Police, said: “Appallingly, Atkinson used his position of trust to abuse young boys for his own sexual gratification and the sentence reflects the serious and protracted nature of his offending.

“I praise the victims for having the courage to relive their ordeals in court and I hope the outcome can help them to move forward.

“I would reassure any victim of such offences that if they should not hesitate in coming forward to the police. It doesn’t matter when the abuse happened, whether it’s happening now or occurred 50 years ago.

"Even if it is not possible to put an offender before the courts, it’s important that you are offered the support and advice that is available. Your information could also help to protect other victims and help the police form a wider picture of offending.

“Child sexual abuse is a foremost priority for the police and all reports will be fully investigated. Please do not suffer alone, if you have been abused, please report it.”