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Released On 13th Feb 2015

Former Westminster Cathedral Choir teacher jailed for abusing boys

David Lowe, a husband and father of five children was jailed for 10 years for sexually abusing his former pupils as they slept in their dormitory beds and during singing lessons at Westminster Cathedral choir School.  

Southwark Crown Court heard that Lowe would invite the pupils to his flat and spank them if they had broken even the most trivial school rules. On occasions he crept into the pupil’s dormitory and touched them intimately whilst ostensibly carrying out his night-time rounds.

The abuse which took place between 1978 and 1984, was carried out on boys aged between eight and 13 years.

The Court heard that many of his victims were pupils at the £16,000 a year school in Westminster, while others were abused at Ampleforth College run by Benedictine monks.  After leaving Westminster Cathedral school, Lowe gained a job at Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire where he continued to abuse young boys.

Jurors heard that Lowe cultivated a small group of pupils with whom he was extra friendly. He even invited a select few to attend his wedding. 

A former pupil in giving evidence told the court that he was 10 when the abuse started.  Initially Lowe would inappropriately touch or massage him during piano lessons. Lowe would then slide his hands down the young boy’s trousers and touch his genitals.

Another victim recalled Lowe invited him to his room at the Westminster Choir School and asked the lad to remove his trousers and lie across Lowe’s lap. The victim, now a middle aged man, told the trial that Lowe had told him to go upstairs.  The victim thought, "here we go again, I am going to get some more of this”. He remembered sitting down on the sofa and being told to take off his pants and trousers. 

One man gave evidence that Lowe had fondled him for half an hour saying that what happened in the music room had been like a warm up act.  Another of Lowe’s victims recalled an occasion when late at night he began to drift off to sleep in the top bunk of his dormitory when the housemaster appeared and fondled his genitals under the bed clothes.

As is so often the case with sexual abuse, the victims looked upon their abuser as a figure of authority to whom their care had been entrusted.  The relationship meant the victims had little or no realistic opportunity to protest or complain to anyone else. The Court heard there had been a significant breach of trust and many of the victims, young as they were, were very confused at the time of the abuse and some were “even unsure whether it was right or wrong”.   Some of the victims were left ashamed and embarrassed and felt Lowe had violated them all over again by denying the offences and requiring them to give evidence against him at trial.

The Trial Judge remarked that he was quite sure that Lowe had caused a number of his victim’s serious psychological harm.

In mitigating Lowe’s barrister explained that Lowe had voluntarily removed himself from the temptation of young boys by leaving Ampleforth. The majority of the offending involved abuse that was carried out in a gentle manner without particular force. Lowe acknowledged the considerable burden that he had brought upon his family and the misery it has caused them.

By contrast Detective Sgt Kirstie Martin of the Metropolitan Police’s Sex Offences Exploitation and Child Abuse Command remarked that “David Lowe was a well-respected and talented teacher. He knew the boys he targeted at their schools and as their teacher used this knowledge to abuse his position of trust in a truly terrible way.  He transpired to be a persistent offender who committed his crimes over a prolonged period. He used young boys, who were often staying away from the security of their own home, to his own advantage. His actions left his victims feeling frightened, lonely and confused.”

David Lowe's secret was uncovered when victims came forward following the publication of operation Yewtree and the police investigation into historic sexual abuse as a result of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Unfortunately for his victims, David Lowe was not prepared to admit his guilt in court and this required them to find the courage to relive their experiences and give evidence against Lowe in the gladiatorial atmosphere of a Crown Court trial.

In sentencing Lowe, Judge Martin Beddoe noted that:-

“All these young boys were to some degree emotionally and physically vulnerable – some more so than others. You took advantage of that made it all the worse by what you did.  What you did has remained more or less a secret the best part of 35 years until now. But for the courage of all 10 complainants, in particular those most affected, a secret it would have remained”.

Lowe was convicted of 15 counts of indecent assault on boys under the age of 14 and has now been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

If you or a family member have been affected by sexual abuse, please contact our specialist abuse team at enquiries@robsonshaw.uk.  Our solicitors have won hundreds of thousands in compensation for victims of sexual abuse.  We represent claimants on a no win no fee basis.  To speak to us on a free, no obligation, confidential basis, please contact us on 01392 345333, or dial your local rate number on our website.


Tags: Child abuse, School Abuse, sexual abuse