A PERVERTED deputy headteacher has been told his appeal bid over indecent assault and cruelty offences at an East Lancashire primary school has failed.

Law lords have ruled the convictions of Grahame Brennand, guilty of abusing pupils at Baxenden St John's Primary from 1973 to 1989, cannot be challenged.

Brennand, then 71, was jailed for 16 years, with a three-year extended licence, after Preston Crown Court heard how he terrorised pupils at the village school and molested schoolgirls.

Jurors heard how he rubbed dog dirt in the face of one boy, threw pupils across desks, lifted them off the ground by the scruff of their necks and locked them in cupboards.

And girls as young as seven were sexually abused, in the classroom, during swimming lessons and at a girls-only first-aid club, set up by Brennand.

Jailing him in October 2018, Judge Philip Parry told him: "You have been found to have made a career of being perverted and sadistic, almost in equal measure.”

Brennand's lawyers lodged an appeal against conviction on the grounds of 'cross-admissibility' - covering the relevance of the evidence of one or more complainants and how this relates to the cases of other complainants.

The former teacher was found guilty of 26 offences of indecent assaults involving young girls and three cruelty charges concerning young boys.

Richard English, for Brennand, argued Judge Parry had failed to properly direct the jury on the issue of 'cross-admissibility', ostensibly reversing the burden of proof so his client had to explain why so many complainants had come forward alleging similar conduct.

The Court of Appeal was also told there had been substantial obstacles in lodging the application, caused by prison access conditions during the pandemic, with Mr English claiming a time extension was justified.

But Lord Justice Fulford, sitting with Mr Justice Nicklin and Sir Nigel Davis, dismissed both the time extension and leave to appeal applications.

The court was told the trial transcript had been available since June 2021 to Brennand's lawyers and there were no 'exceptional grounds' for extending the appeal time limits.

Their ruling also stated: "Overall, and despite Mr English's thoughtful and helpful submissions, we are not persuaded that the applicant has a real prospect that the judge's directions to the jury on cross-admissibility were such as to render the applicant's convictions unsafe.

"On the contrary, we consider that the judge gave careful and clear directions on this issue specifically and appropriately tailored to the facts of the case."

The law lords added: "The judge properly and firmly directed the jury that this did not alter the burden of proof, which remained on the prosecution, a point to which, as we have noted, he gave further emphasis in his oral directions."

Brennand, who taught in the top junior class at St John’s, is said to have kept the windows and door of his classroom covered in sugar paper to conceal the horrors taking place inside.

Investigating officer Keith Hill, speaking after his convictions, said the former deputy head was "a devious and arrogant man (who) took advantage of his position to abuse many children in his care".