Former Eton teacher who touched schoolboys at night guilty of child sex offences
A former Eton College teacher has been found guilty of eight child sex offences today.
Housemaster Matthew Mowbray, 49, touched schoolboys inappropriately during late-night visits to their bedrooms, Reading Crown Court heard.
He regularly entered pupils’ rooms at night claiming he needed to talk about schoolwork and, while sitting on their beds, touched or stroked their arms or legs, the court heard.
The abuse came to light when one of the victim’s friends raised concerns with another housemaster and an investigation was launched.
Following the first allegation being disclosed, the court heard how the senior geography teacher sent an email to the deputy headmaster of Eton College.
Mowbray wrote: “A big part of the awful feeling I have about this situation is that regardless of whether it is true or not, it could be impossible to stop the rumours.
“It leaves me with the feeling that I can never go back to normal unless this is managed very carefully.”
The prosecution barrister claimed the teacher was not worried about the boys, the school, and the staff – but only about himself.
It then became clear that other boys had been victims of Mowbray’s unwanted attention over a number of years.
Investigators discovered hundreds of indecent images of children on Mowbray’s computer.
Police also recovered a series of secretly filmed images of a pupil getting undressed in his bedroom, the court heard.
Whilst Mowbray admitted downloading the indecent images, making pseudo-images and the secret recording, he denied eight counts of sexual activity with a child against four boys at the college.
He has been on trial for nine child sex offences and today he has been found guilty of eight of those.
Mowbray was found not guilty of one count of sexual activity with a child against a girl.
Before a jury retired to consider its verdict today, Mowbray’s defence barrister claimed he was “acting as a parent” to the schoolboys he is accused of molesting at the prestigious Berkshire school attended by royalty and Prime Ministers.
Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC asked the jury to consider what, as a parent or carer, they would do if they came across a distressed and crying child.
She said: “Matthew Mowbray and others in his type of work are effectively charged with being a parent. A parent, carer or anybody with responsibility may well say goodnight without a hint of sexual alignment, without a cloud of suspicion of sexual touching.
“If you saw anyone – who you cared for or had responsibility for – crying and upset at the age of 13 years, how many of you would not offer a hug. This is nothing more than a bit of reassurance to a young man who may have had some issues. We can see a pattern, that is just how Matthew Mowbray is.
“We challenge any of you to think of yourself in that position, who would not put a hand on a child to reassure them?”
Marc Thompson of the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Mowbray’s victims described feeling uncomfortable with his nocturnal visits to their rooms.
“Whilst not overtly sexual acts, they knew the touching was wrong, but were at a loss to know what to do.”
“Mowbray’s intentions became clear with the discovery of the indecent images on his computer, it was through this evidence we were able to prove to the jury that the manner in which he touched the boys was intended to satisfy his own sexual desires.
“This has been a distressing experience for the victims who were let down by someone they should have been able to trust.
“We thank them for their help during the investigation and for their courage in giving evidence which has helped to secure today’s convictions.”
Mowbray was dismissed from the school following his arrest in May last year.
Simon Henderson, Eton College’s headmaster, said: “I want to pay tribute to the extraordinary courage and dignity shown by the victims in this case.
“As Head Master I am outraged at the way Mr Mowbray abused his position of trust and betrayed those in his care. I have offered those individuals involved my unreserved apologies on behalf of the school and we will continue to do all we can to support them moving forward.
“It is a difficult truth that many of us – colleagues, pupils and parents – trusted a man who succeeded in hiding his criminal conduct for so long.
“There is a palpable sense of betrayal, coupled with shock and deep regret that we did not identify his offending earlier.
“Mr Mowbray was believed to be a caring and professional House Master but we now know that he was a skillful and deceitful manipulator of both young people and adults.”