Former Eton teacher found guilty of sexually abusing pupils

A former teacher at Eton College has been found guilty of sexually touching students during night-time visits to their bedrooms at the prestigious boarding school.

Matthew Mowbray, of Locks Heath, Southampton, entered boys’ rooms late at night on the pretext of discussing schoolwork before touching them for his own “sexual gratification”, Reading Crown Court heard.

The 49-year-old father admitted downloading hundreds of indecent images of children, as well as superimposing pupils’ faces on to the naked bodies of unknown children on his computer.

But he denied nine counts of sexual activity with a child against four boys and one girl over a period of several years.

On Wednesday a jury of six men and six women found Mowbray guilty on eight of the charges and not guilty of one count of sexual activity with a child against a girl.

Mowbray, who wore a dark suit, white shirt and dark red tie, clutched a facemask in his hands and remained expressionless as the verdicts were read out.

Matthew Mowbray court case
Matthew Mowbray stood trial at Reading Crown Court (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The jury reached their verdicts after deliberating for six hours and 34 minutes.

Presiding judge Heather Norton QC told Mowbray it was “inevitable” that he would receive a prison sentence, adding: “You should prepare yourself for that”.

During the trial, jurors heard that one of the victims told police Mowbray “put his head on my arm, basically laid down on me without putting his legs up”.

After a boy made a complaint about Mowbray touching him, prosecutor John Price QC said the teacher sent an email to the deputy headmaster in which he wrote: “A big part of the awful feeling I have of the situation is that, regardless of whether it’s true or not, it would be impossible to stop the rumours that will inevitably spread among the boys and around the school.

“It leaves me with a feeling I will never go back to normal unless this is managed very carefully.”

Mr Price told jurors: “When he spoke of (the victim’s) complaint being managed very carefully so that he can get back to normal, did he mean prevent it coming out to minimise risk of others coming forward?”

Another victim told the court Mowbray made physical contact with him during late-night visits to his bedroom on “five to six occasions”.

In a statement read out in court, the victim said Mowbray came into the room “in the dark” and sat on his bed while chatting to him.

He said: “While he was doing so he would gently put his hand down on my thigh and knee and rub his hand up and down my thigh over and over.

“I felt really uncomfortable and just froze.”

Matthew Mowbray court case
Matthew Mowbray had previously pleaded guilty to six counts of making indecent images of children and one count of voyeurism (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Mowbray had previously pleaded guilty to six counts of making indecent images of children and one count of voyeurism in relation to a series of covertly filmed images showing a boy getting dressed at the school near Windsor in Berkshire.

On the charges the former geography teacher denied, defence counsel Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC said: “There’s no covert, surreptitious behaviour, no overt sexual touching, no words to accompany the touching such that it was to convert it into something sexual.”

She said Mowbray was “well-respected” by students and that he had sat and chatted with the boys and occasionally put his hand on them “as a gesture of comfort”.

Mowbray did not give evidence during the trial.

He is due to be sentenced at Reading Crown Court on a date yet to be set.

Mowbray was granted bail on the condition that he does not contact parents or staff from Eton College, must not enter Eton or the surrounding area, and must not have unsupervised contact with children who are under the age of 16.

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