Glynn Tonkiss, aged 74, from Stoke, was an art teacher at a Plymouth School. He studied fine art at Bristol University before embarking on a teaching career. He took a post graduate teaching course in Manchester. He worked as an art teacher at a number of schools.
In response to separate reports regarding Tonkiss’ behaviour, the police interviewed the former art teacher on a number of occasions. However, it was the most recent investigation, commenced in 2017, that resulted in Glynn Tonkiss standing trial.
He was first charged with a number of offences in August 2019, which were added to over time, in response to more complaints. The offences occurred between 1978 and 1985.
He was found guilty on 35 counts of indecent assault against 6 boys, aged between 12 and 16, at Plymouth Crown Court in November 2020, following the trial in October and November.
He was subsequently handed down a prison sentence of 16 years. The judge said the 35 counts of indecent assault were the “tip of the iceberg”. Some of the charges represented multiple incidents of similar abuse against the same boys.
The judge, Recorder Jo Martin QC, said:
“You were employed to teach art between 1978 and 1985. You were in a position of trust.
“The expectation from the school, all the parents and the families and the boys in your care, was that you would help them reach their full potential, that you would nurture them into young adulthood.
“Instead you used your position as a teacher to prey on and groom young boys, in particular those who were already struggling, to fulfil your own sexual desires.
“Your modus operandi was to befriend young boys. You encouraged them to smoke, drink and look at heterosexual pornography.”
“While for the most part, you Glynn Tonkiss, have enjoyed a productive life since retiring from teaching, the trauma most of the young men you abused was clear through the evidence they gave in court. They have not been so lucky.”
Following the guilty verdict, Det Con Matthew Nile, from Plymouth police's Sexual Offences and Domestic Abuse Investigation Team, told Plymouth Live: "The court has found Glynn Tonkiss guilty on 35 counts of indecent assaults of children.
"I would like to highlight the commitment and bravery of the victims and witnesses in this case.
"They should all feel that their voices have been heard and the result of this trial clearly shows that they were believed.
"Glynn Tonkiss has been found to have abused children as young as 12 years old.
"Glynn Tonkiss is an opportunistic paedophile who took opportunities of his contact with children, and opportunities of children visiting his home, and sexually abused them, often causing a lifetime of blame and anguish.
"It has been the hard work of the victim’s, witnesses and Police Officers that has led this serious and complex investigation into the court room.
"Devon and Cornwall Police hope this provides some level of conclusion to the events for those involved.
"Anyone who has been a victim of non-recent abuse should feel empowered to report. Police will always investigate allegations of such a serious nature."