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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 August 2007, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
Teacher guilty of child sex abuse
Paul Couch
Couch was granted bail as his father is terminally ill
A former boarding school teacher is facing jail after being convicted of committing 13 sexual offences against children in Devon.

Paul Couch, 61, of Wyndham Street West, Plymouth, was found guilty of two counts of serious sexual assault and 11 of indecent assault over 21 years.

He was cleared of four indecent assault charges at Exeter Crown Court. He denied all the charges.

He was released on bail to reappear before the court for sentencing.

The offences took place between 1972 and 1993 at the school, which is now closed. The six boys were aged between eight and 13.

Couch was granted bail because his father is terminally ill but judge Paul Darlow warned him he would be going to prison.

He will be advised when sentence is to be passed.

'Horse-play'

Couch taught religious studies and English and was also involved in sport and extracurricular activities.

The prosecution said some of the abuse happened during sailing trips, in the gym and while swimming.

Ian Fenny, prosecuting, told the court Couch had a "dark secret personality".

He said over the years the victims had revealed to people close to them what had happened.

The court heard how one boy complained to the school authorities in 1987, but after an internal inquiry Couch stayed in his post.

The police became involved in 2004 when a former pupil on remand in prison told a prison chaplain.

Couch had told police the allegations were "disgusting and untrue" and any physical contact had been "horse-play".

He said: "Whatever they have described in hindsight over 20 or 30 years is not what happened at the time."

He told the jury he was tactile because "sometimes a boy needs a father figure".

Det Insp Steve White, in charge of the investigation, said: "I trust the outcome will assist in providing some form of closure to the victims."


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Couch was granted bail because his father is ill



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