A FORMER Redditch teacher convicted of rape insists he is innocent of the 'terrible' attack despite the jury’s guilty verdict.

Michael Leydon was jailed for six years and six months at Worcester Crown Court on Friday but maintains he did not pin the ‘vulnerable’ woman down and rape her in 2014.

The 61-year-old, previously of Diglis, Worcester, but now of Worthing, arrived at Worcester wearing a mask and trilby hat and without the wife who had supported him throughout the trial. The two had been inseparable during the trial, hugging each other in the public waiting area. She also let out a piercing scream when Leydon was convicted by the jury, walking out of court before she learned her husband had been cleared of a second count of rape against the same woman. After conviction he and his wife ran from a photographer, both turning their faces away from the camera.

Robert Tolhurst, defending, said his client did not accept his guilt but recognised what was going to happen to him and had left his mobile phone at home.

Mr Tolhurst said: “He respects the verdict of this jury but he continues to maintain his innocence.”

The barrister emphasised the defendant’s lack of previous convictions and cautions and ‘positive good character’ and ‘the positive contribution he has made towards society in the teaching profession throughout his whole adult life’.

He described the rape as ‘a single isolated incident’ and added: “I would suggest that this defendant does not present a danger and there is no risk of reoffending.”

Mr Tolhurst said it would be Leydon’s first experience of custody and the slamming of the prison gates would have more of an effect upon him than on others with previous experience of incarceration. He said this would be ‘magnified’ by the effect of the restrictions in prison during the coronavirus pandemic.

James Judge Burbidge QC told the former Nunnery Wood High School teacher: “In a single moment you lost leave of your senses.”

The history teacher’s career came to an end in 2017 when he retired to contest the allegations.

But a jury decided by majority verdict that he carried out the rape in 2014, holding the woman down by the shoulders and leaving bruises.

The prosecution case was that Leydon’s texts to the victim referred to the rape, including one in which he says his actions were ‘totally disgusting’ and ‘the result of drink tablets, and stress’.

In another message he wrote: “I’m sorry for what I did to you – you know I will never do it again.”

In one text he wrote: “What I did to you was my fault, albeit I did it on a cocktail of alcohol, sexual frustration and depression.”

In a victim impact statement, the woman, described by the judge as ‘troubled’, said she had suffered PTSD and had lost her confidence and self-worth in the wake of the rape.

We have previously reported how the defendant was convicted by majority decision of a single count of rape and cleared of a second. The former school governor must sign the sex offender register for life. He must serve half the sentence in custody and half on licence.

As previously reported, the jury spent 11 hours and 8 minutes deliberating over three days when they returned a guilty verdict by a majority of 11 to one at Worcester Crown Court on August 19.

The jury had heard that the defendant stood by his son Christopher Leydon who was convicted of raping a boy under 13 and other sexual offences against the child in 2017.

The father-of-three was a teacher at Nunnery Wood High School between 1983 and 1989 but had also taught at schools in Redditch and Hereford.

The defendant suffers from depression, dyspraxia and macular degeneration which the barrister said was likely to deteriorate further while he is in prison without the same access to treatment.

The judge said the defendant’s behaviour during the rape was ‘quite different to how you conducted yourself throughout your life’.

He read 14 references supplied by his wife, children and former colleagues and the judge described him as a man of previous ‘exemplary good character’.

Judge Burbidge said of the texts he sent to his victim: “They appear to be an expression of regret and also you trying to comprehend why you did what you did because it was beyond comprehension.”