A FORMER PRIMARY school headteacher who systematically sexually abused dozens of pupils has been jailed for 10 years.

Gordon Fleming, 66, from Oswestry, Shropshire, indecently touched 44 girls aged as young as seven over a 15-year period, when he taught at three schools.

In February of this year, Fleming admitted 24 counts of indecently touching girls aged under 13, relating to 24 victims in the Machynlleth area.

In August, he admitted a further 11 counts relating to 11 more victims.

In 1992, he was jailed for four years at Chester Crown Court after admitting nine counts of indecently assaulting pupils at one school, in the Newtown area, bringing the total to 44.

Swansea Crown Court heard how schoolgirls would “rush” from his classrooms at the end of lessons to escape being abused.

Fleming taught graphic lessons on reproduction and instructed schoolgirls to act out sexual positions in front of their classmates.

Judge Geraint Walters said Fleming, left some of his victims with “severe psychological harm”.

“They were young, naive, innocent and respectful of your position and your obvious authority,” the judge told Fleming.

“What is remarkable about this case is the scale of your offending over such a significant period of time, affecting the lives of so many.”

Prosecuting, Robin Rouch said Fleming abused girls aged seven to 11 when he worked as a teacher and headteacher at three schools.

An investigation into Fleming's conduct at all three schools from the 1970s to the 1990s was launched after a number of pupils reported being abused by him.

Three came forward in 2011, while another in 2014, provided police with a list of classmates she believed had also been touched by Fleming.

Victims described how Fleming would touch them on an almost daily basis when they went to his desk to have their work marked.

He would lie on top of some of the girls and simulate sex, force them to touch him through his trousers and make them sit on his knee.

Some parents complained about Fleming's behaviour but he continued to abuse their children.

Many of Fleming's victims provided victim impact statements to the court, with one reading hers in person.

“I’m just one of the many, many people he has admitted to indecently assaulting but the legacy of the abuse perpetrated by this man has affected many more,” she said.

Representing Fleming, Dyfed Thomas, said his client showed genuine remorse and “fully realises” the consequences of his actions.

He acknowledged that Fleming's abuse had been “prolific” until his arrest in 1991 but said he had not offended at all since his release from prison in the 1990s.

Speaking after the case, Nicola Powell of the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Gordon Fleming hid behind his reputation as a well-respected teacher for decades, exploiting his positions of trust within the education system.

“He used his authority to fulfil his own sexual gratification.”

Chief Inspector Steve Davies, who led the investigation, said: “The sentence recognises the control and long-lasting harm caused to victims by an individual who betrayed his position of trust to sexually abuse children.

“I would like to thank all those who were affected for their courage in coming forward which led to the sentence today.”