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Monday, 6 December, 1999, 15:25 GMT
Former head jailed for sex offences
court graphic


A former headmaster found guilty of indecently assaulting two pupils at a boarding school nearly 20 years ago has been jailed for two years.

David Cassell, 56, was convicted on five counts of indecent assault and gross indecency on a nine-year-old girl and 11-year-old boy.

The offences happened when Cassell was head of St Michael's Preparatory School in Tawstock, near Barnstaple, between 1979 and 1982.

After a three-week trial, a jury convicted Cassell on the five counts, and acquitted him on a further five counts against two more pupils who had made allegations against him.

Sentencing Cassell at Bournemouth Crown Court, Judge Samuel Wiggs said: "You were in a position of very considerable trust in relation to the children and the parents and you abused that trust.

"I accept that this has brought considerable suffering to you and your family, but I must also consider the position of the people you abused."

Cassell, who left as head of St Michael's in 1986, was also ordered by the judge to put his name on the registered sex offender's list.

The court had heard that since his arrest last year, Cassell, from Lower Street, Merriott, Somerset, had tried to kill himself twice and had been diagnosed clinically depressed.

David Crigman QC, representing Cassell, said his 30-year unblemished record had been tarnished forever by the conviction, and that he and his wife had lost their jobs at the Bickley Park school in Surrey as a result of the case.
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