A former teacher who sexually abused numerous schoolboys was caught with the help of the Friends Reunited website.
Peter Hamilton-Leggett, 48, of Old Station Lane, Yelverton, Devon, was jailed for eight years at Swindon Crown Court after admitting 54 sex offences against boys as young as eight.
Some of the former pupils were contacted by police using the Friends Reunited website. The court had heard that Hamilton-Leggett had twice before been the focus of police investigations into alleged sex abuse but it was not until one man came forward in 2002 that the catalogue of horrific offences carried out, at two public schools in Wiltshire and Berkshire in the 1970s and 1980s, was uncovered. The court heard that one of the schools - the Old Ride Preparatory School in Bradford-on-von, Wiltshire - had since closed but detectives used the Friends Reunited website to contact former pupils.
Detectives investigating the case then found they had opened the floodgates, resulting in 19 former pupils pressing charges against their old science master. Prosecutor Don Tait QC said Hamilton-Leggett had started abusing pupils in his care during his first teaching position at Old Ride School in 1970 when he was 26. He took a short break to study at Reading University but the abuse carried on at Lambrook Preparatory School in Bracknell until 1985 - a total period of some 15 years.
Mr Tait outlined the pattern of how Hamilton-Leggett would first gain the trust of the boys, luring them to his room after "lights out" with promises of playing space invaders on his computer, sweets and even giving them beer on one occasion. After becoming their friend, the abuse would start. He used a variety of methods, one which became known as "the bravery trust game" in which the teacher would run his hands down the boys' bodies until told to stop.
The boy he was abusing would be treated as a favourite but that treatment would abruptly stop if they resisted or refused him.