Former St Hilda’s biology teacher denies historic sexual abuse claims

The trial continues
The trial continues

A former biology teacher at St Hilda’s RC Girls School in Burnley has denied 11 charges of historic sexual abuse of a pupil, including two of buggery.

Joseph Cheesbrough (65) of Cockermouth, Cumbria, appeared in the dock at Burnley Crown Court today (Monday) where he pleaded not guilty to the charges dating from August 1974 to August 1975.

Miss Emma Kehoe (prosecuting) told the jury that a former pupil of Cheesbrough’s had reported the alleged abuse to police in 2013.

Miss Kehoe said the complainant had admitted to being flattered by the defendant’s interest in her when he arrived at the school in 1974.

Miss Kehoe said: “Mr Cheesbrough was fairly new at the school. He had caused a lot of excitement when he arrived because up to then the girls had been mostly taught by nuns.

“The defendant paid particular attention to the complainant and she was flattered. At the time, Mr Cheesbrough ran school trips on his minibus, and it was on one such trip to Ainsdale that he first touched and kissed the complainant.

“Sexual contact increased over the coming months becoming more regular and progressed to oral sex and full sex.

“The complainant was a willing participant and this happened on many occasions.

“On two occasions the complainant alleges the pair had anal sex, which she did not like, on the defendant’s minibus at Crown Point in Burnley.

“The pair would also meet at the defendant’s home at the time in Worsthorne and in woods near to Worsthorne. Alcohol often played a part.”

Cheesbrough is alleged to have ended the relationship shortly after the complainant left the school when she was 16.

In her video police interview, played to the jury, the complainant said she had led a very sheltered Catholic upbringing and was naive at the time.

She added that her father was very strict and would not let her wear make-up, jewellery, perfume or provocative clothes.

She admitted that Cheesbrough had caused “quite a stir” when he arrived at the school.

The trial continues.