‘Sex dungeon’ principal who defrauded school of £100,000 is jailed for four years

James Stewart has been jailed for four years.

James Stewart has been jailed for four years. - Credit: Archant

A college principal who turned his office into a “sex dungeon” and helped himself to nearly £103,000 of school funds has been jailed for four years.

Photos taken inside the specially adapted office of former Sawtry principal James Stewart.

Photos taken inside the specially adapted office of former Sawtry principal James Stewart. - Credit: Archant

James Stewart, 72, who had been principal of Sawtry Community College for nearly 30 years, blew the money on drink, smoked salmon and custom-made furniture for his office, which he had converted into an apartment, complete with a bed, dining area and cooking equipment.

Horseracing fan Stewart, who was paid £120,000 a year, was even spotted on television at Newmarket races and took annual skiing holidays in the school’s time, Huntingdon Crown Court was told.

Stewart, of Kimbolton Road, Bedford, was having an affair with another adult and they were seen coming out of his office with wine stains around their mouths and with their hair and clothing awry.

Photos taken inside the specially adapted office of former Sawtry head teacher James Stewart.

Photos taken inside the specially adapted office of former Sawtry head teacher James Stewart. - Credit: Archant

Charles Myatt, prosecuting, told how staff heard Stewart serenading the woman on an electric piano and sounds of him chasing her around the office like the Benny Hill TV show.


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Stewart, who resigned during the investigation, admitted six fraud offences and a charge of misconduct in public office.

Former deputy principal Alan Stevens, 64, of Sapperton, Werrington, in Peterborough, admitted two fraud offences involving £364 of property paid for by school funds and was given a 24-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

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He was also ordered to complete 80 hours of unpaid work, to pay £354.59 compensation and £2,000 towards the prosecution costs.

Photos taken inside the specially adapted office of former Sawtry head teacher James Stewart.

Photos taken inside the specially adapted office of former Sawtry head teacher James Stewart. - Credit: Archant

Judge Stuart Bridge told Stewart: “I am of the view that the only sentence the court can pass is a substantial sentence of immediate custody.

“By all accounts this was a serious abuse of position from a person who was in a high position of trust.”

Judge Bridge said: “I am sure there has been a serious detrimental impact on the school itself and the wider community of Sawtry.”

He told Stevens, who has been treated for cancer of the tongue: “It is clear to me you were in awe of Stewart and you did his bidding.”

Photos taken inside the specially adapted office of former Sawtry head teacher James Stewart.

Photos taken inside the specially adapted office of former Sawtry head teacher James Stewart. - Credit: Archant

Judge Bridge said Stevens’ offending was serious but of a lower scale than Stewart’s and that he was able to suspend the sentence.

The court heard that Stewart spent £4,000 on oak and glass doors for his office, together with hand-crafted furniture and bought live oysters from a shop as well as alcohol.

Stewart had also spent money on sex toys at a nearby sex shop and other staff had been prevented from going into the “inner sanctum” at his office.

The court was shown pictures of Stewart’s “sex dungeon”, including custom-made shelves, a fridge with bottles of wine, a pair of women’s pants and penis-shaped drinking straws.

Photos taken inside the specially adapted office of former Sawtry head teacher James Stewart.

Photos taken inside the specially adapted office of former Sawtry head teacher James Stewart. - Credit: Archant

Access to the office was gained after a roofing worker spotted a “large purple vibrator” inside and filmed the room.

Angus Bunyan, for Stewart, said his client was “contrite” and “repentant”.

David Swinnerton, for Stevens, said he was regarded as a “loyal and caring man” and acted as a counsellor to other cancer patients.

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