Birmingham & Black Country

Erdington dance teacher Neil Harris jailed for sex abuse

Neil Harris Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Neil Harris has been put on the sex offenders register for life

A former dance teacher who sexually abused his pupils over two decades has been jailed for five years.

Neil Harris, 72, taught at a dance school in Erdington, Birmingham, for more than 50 years.

He was investigated after a victim found, through a Google search in 2015, that he was still teaching.

Harris, of Manta Road in Tamworth, was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court after a jury found him guilty of indecent assault.

A former pupil, who was abused by Harris in the 1980s, went to police after she did an internet search on Harris.

She said Harris had sexually touched her between the ages of nine and 13. More victims came forward and he was eventually charged last March.

He initially denied 21 counts against seven former pupils but, after a three-week trial, was convicted of a total of seven charges.

These concerned four girls in the 1970s and 1980s.

At his sentencing, Judge Peter Carr said Harris's actions were a "gross breach of trust".

He said: "You've had an effect on the women's relationships with adults, their own children and being haunted by the experience for many years into adulthood."

'Bravery and courage'

DC Nichola Thomas from West Midlands Police's Public Protection Team said: "The bravery and courage of the individuals in coming forward is admirable and I am so very thankful to those who have reported their experiences to us."

She urged others who may have had similar experiences to speak to police.

Harris has been put on the sex offenders register for life. He is also under a sexual harm prevention order, restricting contact with children under 16.

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