Teacher jailed on sex charges

A Leigh primary school headmaster has been jailed for three and a half years for sexually molesting a young boy.

Paul Melville, who was also a church choirmaster and organist, was convicted by a Liverpool Crown Court jury of three offences of indecent assault and three of gross indecency with the child who was aged between 12 and 15.

Headmaster of St Paul's CE primary school in Westleigh since 1990, Melville, 52, was ordered to sign on the Sex Offenders Register for life and also banned from working with children indefinitely.

He was suspended from his post after the allegations were made.

The offences, which took place between March 7, 1986 and March 8, 1990, only came to light last year when the victim feared that Melville might abuse other youngsters and told the police, said David Grey, prosecuting.

The court heard that he was a pillar of the community who had also been a choirmaster and organist at local churches including St James The Great in Haydock.

Among those who gave character references for him was the Rev Paul Nener, vicar of Tuebrook, Liverpool.

Melville, of Bluebell Avenue, Haydock, who has no previous convictions, denied all the charges and claimed that the victim had been attention seeking and had also hoped to gain financially.

A spokesman for Wigan Council said: "These offences took place at a time when Mr Melville did not work in Wigan and are not connected to the school in any way.

"As soon as these allegations came to light he was suspended by the governors of St Paul's.

"The LEA is working with the school to ensure that the children receive the same standard of high quality education during this time."

The Church of England Diocesan Director of Education Jan Ainsworth said: "Paul Melville has been an effective head teacher for many years.

"None of the charges relate to his role as head teacher at St Paul's CE Primary Westleigh.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the school governors and families as they absorb this news and we will be offering our practical support in the weeks to come."