‘Deep shame’ at former Lincoln school housemaster’s 50 years walking free after abusing boys

A former deputy headteacher and choirmaster’s appalling and life-changing abuse against schoolboys was not investigated for almost 50 years.

Roy Griffiths, 82, was jailed on Friday for six years and seven months after he admitted to charges involving the sexual assault of young boys at the former Lincoln Cathedral School.

Child charities and Lincoln Cathedral have spoken out to condemn the abuse, the extent of which, courts heard, left six victims with profound trauma.

Griffiths was in charge of boys who boarded at the school. He left his post in the summer of 1970 following a complaint made about his behaviour.

Lincoln Crown Court was told that neither the school nor the Lincoln Diocese apparently passed the matter onto the police at the time and Griffiths left the UK to teach in Papua New Guinea.

Roy Griffiths was jailed for six years.

An investigation only began into Griffiths’ conduct after a new safeguarding officer employed by the Bishop of Lincoln carried out a review of historic cases which led to police becoming involved in 2015.

The school was amalgamated with a number of other schools in 1996 to form Lincoln Minster School.

Griffiths, 82, of South Street, Sherborne, Dorset, admitted six charges of indecent assault earlier this year on the day he was due to stand trial in front of a jury.

The charges related to offences involved six different young boys during the period between January 1963 and July 1970 when Griffiths was deputy head as well as housemaster and choirmaster at the school. During that time he taught English and Latin as well as singing in the choir.

Lasting damage

Judge Simon Hirst, passing sentence, placed Griffiths on the sex offenders register for life. He told Griffiths: “You were the deputy headmaster of the Cathedral School between 1963 and 1970. You left the Cathedral School in 1970.

“There had been an allegation of sexual impropriety against you and you were asked to leave. It does not appear that the matter was reported to the police. It follows that there was no police inquiry at the time.

“You have expressed some remorse for what you have done to these boys whom you were supposed to educate and look after.

“You offended over a seven year period. It was your good character that meant no-one was suspicious of you.

“It is clear that all six of your victims were profoundly affected by your abuse of them.

“You did them all real and lasting damage and you did it for no other reason than sexual gratification for yourself.

“I consider that your offending is so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence can be passed.”

Abuse in his home

Grace Hale, prosecuting, said that as part of his role Griffiths was the housemaster who looked after pupils who boarded at the school and he lived in a flat close to the dormitories.

She said Griffiths invited boys into his flat at night to watch television and would indecently touch them while other boys were present.

He also abused boys on other occasions and took two boys on holiday with him when they slept in his bed.

“He was in charge of the boys that boarded at the school. The defendant left the school in 1970 after a complaint was made. There was no involvement with the police. It is not thought it was reported to them at the time.”

Mrs Hale said that historic files were reviewed by a new safeguarding officer following her appointment and as a result police were contacted.

Subsequent inquiries led to the identities of a number of victims being discovered. Two had passed away during the intervening period and others were scattered across the world.

Anne Brown, in mitigation, said that Griffiths had little recollection of events from 50 years ago. She said he had no other convictions and a number of people had submitted references which spoke highly of him.

“He presents as a proud man dealing with his deep shame and embarrassment at his offending. He has expressed his remorse and regret for his actions and for the life long pain he has caused his victims.

“He is physically very frail and walks with a stick.”

Offer of support

After the hearing the Dean of Lincoln, the Very Rev Christine Wilson said: “The conviction of Roy Griffiths recognises the appalling crimes he perpetrated while in a position of trust and responsibility at the then Cathedral School.

“On behalf of the cathedral I would like to say that I am truly sorry that these matters have only now been brought to justice.

“It is deeply shameful that those who were abused have had to spend most of their lifetime dealing with the aftermath of the abuse perpetrated against them.

“The victims and survivors of Griffiths’ horrendous crimes, and the families of those who have died before justice could be served, have shown enormous courage. I wish to acknowledge their bravery in speaking out.

“Lincoln Cathedral will continue to support Roy Griffiths’ victims and their families in any way that we can. Our team stands ready to support anyone affected by this case or who contacts us about any issue of harm and abuse.

“We are resolute in our commitment to ensure that Lincoln Cathedral today is a safe place and to disrupt the conditions in which abuse can happen.

“We can do that by working very closely with partners to provide a safe environment for all who come to the cathedral.”

A spokesperson from the NSPCC children’s charity said: “Griffiths is every parent’s worst nightmare.

“He took advantage of his position of trust to subject his victims to appalling abuse.

“This case shows victims of child sexual abuse will be listened to when they come forward – no matter who the abuser is or when it happened.

“The NSPCC helpline is available to anyone with concerns about child abuse on 0808 800 5000. Children can contact Childline – free, confidential and open 24 hours-a-day – on 0800 1111 or via www.childline.org.uk.”