A retired English teacher and school rugby coach has been jailed for 12 years for sexually abusing 19 pupils at the former Malsis School in the Craven District between the 1970s and 1990s.
Peter Andrew Holmes, aged 73, of King Street, Bristol, was sentenced at Bradford Crown Court today (16 September 2022) following a six-week trial in April and May this year.
The jury found him guilty of 28 offences against the young victims which included multiple counts of indecent assaults and indecency with a child.
The jury could not decide on five charges – two counts of buggery and three of indecent assault. The complainant involved decided not to pursue a retrial.
As well as going to prison, Holmes has also been placed on the Register of Sex Offenders and made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for the rest of his life.
Background to the investigation
Malsis School was based at Malsis Hall, Glusburn, near Crosshills. It was an independent preparatory school until its closure in 2014.
North Yorkshire Police has investigated other complaints of sexual abuse at the former school, including the recent conviction of 74-year-old music teacher David John Hope who is now serving a 17-year prison sentence for raping a boy in the 1980s.
Complaints against Peter Andrew Holmes also came to light in the 1990s, but he had moved to Taiwan shortly after he left Malsis Hall, and the investigation could not be pursued at that time.
However, fresh complaints were made about him in late 2018 which enabled the whole investigation to be reopened by North Yorkshire Police’s Non-Recent Abuse Investigation Team.
Led by Detective Constable Alison Morris, the painstaking inquiry has involved numerous interviews with the victims with each being offered the professional support and care available to everyone who has suffered sexual abuse.
She has also taken dozens of witness statements from former pupils and staff connected to the school.
At the same time, DC Morris managed to track Holmes down to his new home in Bristol where she interviewed him for the first time in connection with the complaints.
The Crown Prosecution Service authorised the string of charges against him and he failed to appear at the initial court hearing in Bristol.
He was arrested by Avon and Somerset Police for failing to appear at court.
The case was then moved to Skipton Magistrates’ Court on 15 January 2021 where Holmes pleaded not guilty, and it was sent to trial at Bradford Crown Court.
Statement from Detective Constable Alison Morris, North Yorkshire Police’s Non-Recent Abuse Investigation Team
“It has been proved that Peter Andrew Holmes is a systematic child abuser who used his position of authority as a teacher to prey on the victims who have bravely pursued justice against him.
“His reign of abuse at Malsis School spanned three decades. He has caused an enormous amount of trauma for the victims which they have endured from childhood through to the present day.
“I truly hope the conclusion of this case, with Holmes finally brought to justice and serving a significant prison sentence, they can begin to look to a future with hope and happiness in their lives.”
Seeking further support, advice and ways of reporting child abuse
North Yorkshire Police
Make a report via our website or call us on 101 if you have been a victim of abuse.
If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, always dial 999 for an emergency response.
Anyone concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC Helpline for advice on 0808 800 5000. Adult victims of non-recent sexual abuse can also get in touch for support.
Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) Victims who would prefer not to go direct to the police and are not in immediate danger, can contact Bridge House, North Yorkshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), on 0330 2230362, email [email protected] or go towww.bridgehousesarc.org/