Ex-Plymouth headteacher avoids jail after admitting he also indecently assaulted two more boys

A DEPRAVED former headteacher, who was locked up for sex attacks on young pupils, has walked free from court despite admitting further abuse.

Neil Dyer – formerly known as Geoffrey Burley – has narrowly avoided jail after admitting six assaults on two young boys.

The former headteacher of Widey Court Primary School, in Crownhill, was jailed for seven years in 2011 after being found guilty of sexually abusing his pupils.

He was sentenced today (Thursday) at Plymouth Crown Court after admitting he indecently abused another two boys aged under 13 between January 1, 1977 and January 31, 1978 while he worked at the school.


Dyer, of Vauxhall Street, Barbican, was jailed at the same court in 2011 after being found guilty of 25 out of 28 charges of assaulting 13 young boys, one young girl and a 19-year-old soldier.

During his trial, the jury was told he had shown a “callous disregard” for the children, some as young as 10, and that he had committed a “gross breach of trust” and showed a “casual and callous disregard” for his victims’ innocence.

At this sentencing hearing, prosecutor Heather Hope told Judge Ian Lawrie QC that Dyer had pleaded guilty on March 17 to the six offences.

She said Dyer had been first a teacher, then deputy head and finally headteacher at the school where both victims attended.

The first boy had regularly visited Dyer’s home for private lessons in preparation for the 11+ exam.

Ms Hope said the boy was in his final year and was taken to Dyer’s home once a week for several months by his mother.

Sometimes the lessons would take place downstairs but on occasion they would take place in a bedroom.

READ: Herald report on Dyer being jailed for seven years in 2011

The boy – now an adult – told police Dyer would put his hand down the front of the boy’s shorts and fondle him before moving his hand round the back and indecently assaulting him.

Dyer would then go to wash his hands in the en-suite bathroom.

Ms Hope said this happened “frequently when he went for lessons” and he became “terrified” of going to Dyer’s home.

In 2011 the victim became aware of Dyer’s trial and found his own experiences “eating away at him”.

She said he did not want to reveal his abuse initially because he did not want to upset his mother, who he feared would feel guilty for regularly delivering him into Dyer’s clutches.

The second victim told police he was frequently kept in class at lunchtimes or after school by Dyer on the false pretence of being “naughty”.

Dyer would sit the boy on his lap and carry out indecent assaults in a manner which matched the other boy’s experiences.

He had been unaware of the court trial in 2011 but later learned Dyer had been jailed and came forward.

Detectives arrested Dyer – who was released from prison in December 2015 – and while he initially denied the allegations, he pleaded guilty at court earlier this year.

Ms Hope told the court it was recognised that some people were not in the psychological frame of mind to come forward immediately with their complaints of sexual abuse.

In response, Judge Lawrie said he noted the “absolute terror and depth of harm this behaviour causes” which tended to emerge later in life when victims became more aware of what was done to them.

In mitigation, Dyer’s advocate Rupert Taylor said his client’s offences had “lesser features”, although Judge Lawrie said this did not “diminish the impact” on his victims.

Mr Taylor said the pre-sentence report noted how the 76-year-old had a low risk of reoffending, was living in stable accommodation and was “lucky that his church takes a proper Christian approach” to others in their congregation and had written several character references which could appear “inconsistent with his deviant behaviour”.

Sentencing Dyer, Judge Lawrie noted the complexity and difficulty of his duties, having to take into account Dyer’s 2011 conviction, the current sentencing guidelines and the advice contained within the pre-sentence report which encouraged Dyer continue to engage with treatment.

He said Dyer had “abused the implicit trust” of his pupils in “a very, very serious way indeed” and carried out “appalling deviant behaviour”.

He said Dyer’s “utter selfishness [was] implicit in what you were doing, putting your own depraved needs first”.

However, he said he had to give credit for the early guilty pleas which meant the victims were saved the trauma of a trial.

He sentenced Dyer to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.

He would be subject to two years of supervision and must complete a sex offenders treatment programme.

Dyer – who was placed on the Sex Offenders Register indefinitely in 2011 – was also made subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and ordered to pay £500 court costs.

After Dyer was told to leave the court, dragging his small suitcase with him, Judge Lawrie requested one of the victims who attended the hearing approach the bench.

The judge then thanked the man for coming forward, adding that he “sincerely” hoped the painful memories of his abuse diminish over time.

Speaking outside court, lead investigator Det Con Mark Coppola said: “The impact of Dyer’s offending was not just on his victims but also their families and friends. This was shown by the number of people who had come to court to see justice done.

“Dyer’s offences were against the most vulnerable victims.

“The police take all reports of this kind very seriously and this case shows it is never too late to report such abuse.

“Finally and for the very first time, Dyer had admitted to his crimes and admitted to his guilt and I hope this gives some solace to all his victims.”

Source: Ex-Plymouth headteacher avoids jail after admitting he also indecently assaulted two more boys | Plymouth Herald