Nicholas Quest jailed for abusing pupils at Boundary Oak boarding school near Fareham

A teacher at a private boarding school has been jailed for three years after pleading guilty to abusing pupils as young as seven years old.

Nicholas Quest, 59, admitted six offences of indecent assault of a child and asked for a further count to be taken into consideration relating to a total of seven boys.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard that Quest, of Gosport, had preyed on young boys for more than a decade between the mid-1970s and the late 1980s at Boundary Oak Boarding School near Fareham.

He was suspended from the school when the allegations were made and has since resigned.

Matthew Lawson, prosecuting, said the abuse came to light after one former pupil contacted the school, which then alerted police.

The abuse, against boys aged between seven and 13, took place in the school library, in his own private room and even the classroom, the court heard.

Mr Lawson added that Quest was a popular teacher who gave presents such as rugby boots or sweets to his victims.

Mr Lawson said: ''The defendant at the time was a teacher at the school, teaching English, French and occasionally Latin and sport.

''The abused were boys all between seven and 13. The abuse in question over a period of time from the mid-'70s to the late '80s.''

He said the first former pupil to raise concerns said he was abused in the library.

He said: ''At the time he thought it was nice and felt special, not realising, because of his young age, that he was being abused.

''He was first able to talk about the abuse he suffered when he was 19 and he revealed the abuse to his parents.''

Another victim told police: ''I think he stole my innocence, he destroyed my self-confidence, he has eroded my ability to commit to relationships.''

The victim also said the abuse had led to him having a quick temper, drinking heavily and self-harming.

Sentencing Quest, Judge Roger Hetherington told him: ''The victims were boys at the school; many of them had parents who were a long way away and you were obviously, as the school was generally, in loco parentis for those boys.

''The method of abuse was broadly similar – you would find opportunities to sit next to or near to them in ordinary school activities and during that time you would take the opportunity to touch them.''

He continued: ''They would have been too young to understand what was going on and you took advantage of them on repeated occasions.

''All of these victims will have been affected to some degree by what you did to them and it's plain from the statements that some of them were significantly affected and it would have led to real difficulties in their later life.

''Some of them had real difficulties at the time with trying to cope with what you were doing to them.''

The court heard that Quest's offending stopped when he got married and went on to have his own children.

Roderick James, defending, told the court that the offending had arisen from his client's difficulty in coming to terms with his homosexuality.

Judge Hetherington said: ''Many people struggle with their sexuality in their lives and they do not abuse boys in their trust and it was a gross abuse of trust.''

As well as the concurrent prison sentence, Quest was banned from working with children and vulnerable adults and placed on the sex offenders register

We understand that it is not unusual for those who were subject to abuse to come forward later in life. If you or somebody you know were subject to abuse please do not hesitate to contact Charles Derham our specialist child abuse solicitor. We will treat any communications with the strictest of confidence.

Charles has considerable specialist experience in pursuing claims for compensation for those who have been abused in childhood. His specific expertise means that he is recognised locally, nationally and internationally for his work which has taken him all over the world including, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

He is also recognised for his significant involvement in the high profile litigation against St Georges School (Anglemoss Limited) and Cyntwell High School. These cases involved a staggering number of individuals who pursued those responsible whom despite heavily defending the claims brought against them settled by way of out of court settlements.

Charles regularly features in local and national press and he is often asked to provide his professional opinion and commentary on relevant abuse law issues and developments on radio and television broadcasts. Such broadcasts include BBC South Today, BBC Wales, ITV and ITN News.

Charles is a member of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers.

You can follow Charles on Twitter and Facebook.

Charles obtained his Law degree at Kingston University, before successfully completing his Legal Practice Course. He trained and qualified with Verisona Law beginning his specialism in the field of child abuse claims. He received his higher rights of Audience in 2012 making him one of the youngest Solicitor-Advocates in the country who is able to represent his clients in the High Court. Charles is head of the abuse team who collectively have secured compensation for hundreds of victims of abuse.

He began diversifying in to other aspects of abuse law and his team are one of the very few in the country who specialise in claims against social services.

He is involved in complex group action litigation and also represents a number of individuals and who are pursuing private companies, local authorities and perpetrators in pursuit of their justice.

Charles has strong contacts with some of the most prominent barristers who advise on abuse claims including a number of QC’s. He also has robust connections with highly qualified expert witnesses he instructs in support of those who he represents.

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