Sex abuse Leeds teacher jailed for historic offences

Former Leeds teacher David Higgins at Leeds Crown Court. Picture by Tony Johnson
Former Leeds teacher David Higgins at Leeds Crown Court. Picture by Tony Johnson
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A predatory paedophile is back behind bars after being convicted of multiple rape and sex offences on a young boy while he was a teacher at a school in Yorkshire.

David Higgins, 74, groomed the youngster after transferring to the south Leeds primary school from the notorious Knowl View residential school in Rochdale.

Higgins was jailed for 14 years yesterday after being convicted of seven serious sex offences by a jury at Leeds Crown Court.

Higgins abused the youngster many times during school trips he organised for pupils in the early 1970s.

He also forced the boy to have sex with him after taking him to his then home in Roundhay, Leeds.

Higgins left the Leeds school after being convicted of indecently assaulting a different boy during a hiking trip. Higgins was handed a conditional discharge by magistrates for that offence and was able to continue having access to children

The cunning predator obtained a job as a youth worker until he was convicted of indecently assaulting two youngsters in Skipton in 1983. He received another non-custodial sentence for that offence.

Higgins was eventually jailed in 2002 after two former pupils at Knowl View plucked up the courage to tell police of sexual abuse ordeals 30 years earlier.

Both were between nine and 11 when they were assaulted at the council-run residential school. The former school is currently the subject of an independent inquiry over the way it was run.

Claims emerged this week that Rochdale Council “suppressed” a report more than 20 years ago which detailed wide-spread sex abuse and forced prostitution among boys at the school.

Higgins worked and lived at the school – whose ex-governors include the late Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith – and was regarded as a father figure to the boys who came from troubled backgrounds.

He gained their trust and invited them to his rooms before abusing them. One of the boys reported the abuse to the deputy head, but was slapped and told “don’t talk about teachers in that way”.

Both boys kept their ordeal secret until the launch of Operation Cleopatra – Greater Manchester Police’s biggest ever investigation into child abuse in residential homes which began in 1997.

Higgins was arrested in 2012 in relation to his latest convictions in Leeds after his victim finally felt he would be taken seriously.

He had originally made a complaint when he was a child, at the time of the offending, but the local police officer refused to take it seriously because of Higgins’s trusted position within the community.

Judge Tom Bayliss QC said: “It was, and still is, a respected position to be a school master. But you used that respected position to prey on young boys.

“You were, I am perfectly satisfied, in the early 1970s, an active and predatory paedophile who abused children who had the misfortune to be entrusted into your care.”

The judge added: “When he (the victim) did make a complaint, that unquestioning respect meant that the local policeman did not take it seriously - well I take it seriously.”

After the case, Det Insp Lawrence Bone, of Leeds District Safeguarding Unit, said: “Higgins was responsible for the systematic sexual abuse of a young boy over a prolonged period of time and he clearly represents a danger to children.

“We hope the victim will take some comfort from the fact Higgins has now had to face the consequences of his actions.”

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