A trusted former teacher who was unmasked as a paedophile is beginning his second jail term for carrying out sex assaults on young girls in his care.
Joseph Kinnear, described in court as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” who deceived families and school workers in Northumberland, has been sentenced to four years and one month after a jury found him guilty of nine sex assaults on schoolgirls between 1979 and 1982.
It is the second time a jury has convicted the 59-year-old former Rothbury Middle School PE teacher of indecent assaults after Kinnear was handed a seven-year jail term for 13 sex offences over the same period in 2007.
Newcastle Crown Court heard yesterday Kinnear, of East Newtown Cottages in Morpeth, left his victims mentally scarred and unable to form healthy adult relationships, and yet he remains “in denial”, continuing to claim that his numerous victims are “mistaken” or telling “a pack of lies”.
During his trial last month, the court heard Kinnear, then in his 20s, played ‘kissing games’ with young girls and groomed them with private notes and “incremental touching” which started on the wrist so he could “see how far he could take it”.
Prosecutor Michael Hodson said Kinnear manipulated girls and abused them at a school, in his car and at one of the girls’ homes. He also took children abroad, ran gym clubs, ski clubs, soccer clubs and youth clubs and developed close relationships with some girls.
Kinnear admitted that he gave girls ‘birthday kisses’ in front of the class but told the jury he didn’t believe this was inappropriate and that girls had been given the option of having a “peck on the lips” for their birthday. He denied any kisses took place in private.
He convinced girls, one of whom was just 12 at the time, they were “boyfriend and girlfriend” and won the trust of family and friends.
The court heard the teacher began kissing some of the girls in private and carried out depraved sexual abuse.
Mr Hodson added Kinnear’s callous denials of the charges meant his victims had to testify in court.
He said: “Due to the fact that the defendant refuses to accept responsibility for what he did to [one victim] as a child, he forced her to come to court and relive what he did to her.
“She has said it was the most difficult and painful event of her life.”
He said another victim “lost a great deal of self respect”, that she was in fear during the abuse and the trial had brought up the ordeal she had gone through at the hands of Kinnear as a schoolgirl.
“He charmed teachers, governors and his home community in Rothbury with the flamboyance and flair of what everybody thought was an exceptional man and exceptional teacher,” Mr Hodson had told the jury.
“But all the while underneath he had this flaw, behaving in a way that used the opportunities that he had to get closer and closer to girls, whilst at the same time being able to seduce parents and governors into believing he could do absolutely no wrong.”
Judge Simon Hickey said the Rothbury community remains “divided” over the ex-teacher despite him now having a total of 22 convictions for historic sex offences. He added that he had been passed testimonials which said Kinnear was a talented and committed teacher.
On sentencing him to four years, two of which Kinnear will serve on licence, the judge said: “It is the sad truth that when you were young and a gifted and enthusiastic PE teacher you abused those gifts and used your talents to exploit young children; children in your care and in my judgement that abuse is a gross breach of trust.”