A packed-out public gallery watched O’Brien’s sentencing for 15 counts of indecent assault on children aged between ten and 15.
A number of his victims were at the court today. One of them said in a victim impact statement: “I can’t quantify exactly what impact this has had on me and therein lies the tragedy. “How would I be if this hadn’t happened? Would I be more successful, more patient, more passionate? I don’t know, which is sad.” The indecent assaults took place when O’Brien was a teacher at the Oratory School, near Reading, and Winterfold House School, near Kidderminster.
O’Brien still proclaims his innocence and during the trial last year many witnesses shed tears as they were subjected to lengthy cross examination by O’Brien’s lawyer. Sentencing, his honour judge Robert Fraser spoke of the suffering recounted in victim impact statements: “The sentiments expressed reflect the evidence that each of them gave in court – a number of them unable to hold back tears as they were forced to relive your abuse.”
He added: “It was abundantly clear from the understandably emotional evidence they gave during your trial that your actions have left a very dark shadow which each them has had to find ways to deal with.” O’Brien was given sentences of eight years, seven years, six years and four years concurrently, with a five-year term to be served consecutively. He will serve half the total sentence in prison and the other half out on licence.
O’Brien was visibly shocked at the verdict, with Judge Fraser saying: “You have never accepted your guilt.” He was originally charged with 28 counts and stood trial last November.
He was convicted in December of 15 counts of indecent assault and five counts of gross indecency by the jury. He appealed the conviction this year, but was successful only in overturning the gross indecency convictions.
O’Brien was made subject to a sexual offences prevention order and will be on the sex offenders’ register for the rest of his life. If you or a loved one were subject to abuse at the hands of O'Brien please do not hesitate to contact our specialist child abuse team. We will treat any communications with the strictest of confidence.