Deputy head, 75, who abused boys is jailed for 16 years

Keble Prep school deputy head, 75, who sexually abused young boys in the 1980s including son of ‘Popstars’ judge and TV mogul Nigel Lythgoe, is jailed for 16 years

  • Peter Wells, 75, sexually assaulted children at Keble Prep School in north London
  • TV producer Simon Lythgoe, 46, bravely uncovered abuse in his fight for justice 
  • Simon said he forgave him for ‘acknowledging truth’ and not pursuing a trial 

Peter Wells, 75, sexually assaulted children 

A former prep school deputy head who abused young boys including the son of ‘Popstars’ judge Nigel Lythgoe is set to die in prison after he was jailed for 16 years.

Peter Wells, 75, sexually assaulted children while working as a deputy headmaster at Keble Prep School in Winchmore Hill, north London.

The former scout leader was jailed for 15 years in 2018 after three of his victims came forward and police began to investigate his sickening crimes.

TV producer Simon Lythgoe, 46, was abused from the ages of 9 to 12 by Wells after the paedophile befriended his parents, who were then pursuing show business careers.

He only came to police after confronting the trauma Wells had inflicted on him, and his friend saw an article about Wells’s first trial in the London Evening Standard.

Simon’s father found fame as ‘Nasty Nigel’ Lythgoe, a judge on reality show Popstars and went on to kick-start Simon Cowell’s transatlantic career on American Idol.

Simon, who waived his right to anonymity, addressed Wells before he was sentenced at Wood Green Crown Court and forgave him.

He said: ‘I would like to thank Peter Wells, for acknowledging the truth and not putting me through a trial.

‘I forgive you, after all these years. You have no idea the impact you have had on my life. After all of that I forgive you.’

He committed the offences while working as a deputy headmaster at Keble Prep School in Winchmore Hill, north London

Judge John Dodd, QC, said: ‘I’m sure you can remember these events clearly?’

‘Very clearly,’ Mr Lythgoe replied.

‘After I went to therapy, everything that he did came out.

‘I realised I had a duty to protect society from people like Peter Wells. I had two workaholic parents, I didn’t have love from them as a child.

‘He started to parent me, it was a kind of love, although a corrupt, evil kind of love.

‘When my father came home that night it caused a huge fight between my parents. I took the responsibility and thought I had caused the fight.

‘My mum can’t be in court today, she breaks down in tears from guilt and shame. I felt responsible and thought by keeping it secret, I was preventing harm…’

Judge Dodd told Wells: ‘These offences were committed long ago, between 1984 and 1988.

‘It is plain that you treated your victims as sexual playthings.

‘You abused their trust and the trust placed in you by the parents of these young boys.

‘No sentence I can pass will undo the harm you have caused to these two, now adult, men.

‘Simon thanked you, he said, I will never forget it, he said he forgave you… What struck me of course, is that your ghastly behaviour impacted him in a profound way.

‘These offences are serious, repeated and systematic abuse of children by a person entrusted with their education.

‘I do hope that your victims will feel some sense of closure.’

Wells had been jailed for 15 years in December 2018 after he was convicted of sexually abusing three boys over a 16-year period.

The former scout leader was jailed for 15 years in 2018 after three of his victims came forward and police began to investigate his sickening crimes

Judge Dodd extended his prison term by one year, bringing the total term to 16 years.

Simon, supported by friends, broke down in tears as the judge passed sentence.

Prosecutor David Smith told the court Wells had groomed another boy by making him urinate in a conical flask for his sick pleasure.

Wells told the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, that it was ‘their little secret’.

Wells usually preyed on Mr Lythgoe when he took his student back to the house he shared in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, with his elderly mother for private lessons on Friday evenings.

Wells teased Mr Lythgoe about his weight over shepherd’s pie and gave him Guinness to drink, claiming it would bulk him up.

He began to blur boundaries between them by suggesting they take a nap together on his bed before the tutoring began.

But over time the predator began to molest the boy while pleasuring himself naked.

Wells resigned from Keble only after it emerged he had lied about having a university degree.

He was later allowed to be a Scout leader where he also molested boys.

He also was a coach at Haringey and Enfield Athletics Club and fostered troubled children.

Mr Lythgoe’s father later found fame as ‘Nasty Nigel’ Lythgoe, then helped launch Pop Idol and went on to make Simon Cowell’s a transatlantic public figure with American Idol.

His mother Bonnie became a celebrated dancer and theatre producer, as well as a judge on the reality show ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’

Mr Lythgoe had a successful career in television production and, after working on Popstars in Australia, persuaded his father to license the format for ITV.

He moved from Australia to Los Angeles to collaborate with his father on American Idol, which soon was one of the most successful US television shows in history, with 30 million viewers at its peak.

Wells appeared in court via videolink from HMP Bure, Norfolk, wearing a red zip-up jacket.

Simon Lythgoe waived his right to anonymity after Wells admitted two counts of gross indecency with a boy under 14 and five counts of indecent assault of a boy under 14 in July.

Detective Constable Keith Kimberley said: ‘I am in no doubt that this man is a dangerous sexual predator and he poses an ongoing threat to children.

‘He caused unforgivable trauma to the children he abused and the only appropriate way for him to spend the next years of his life is in prison, and away from the general public.

‘As far as we can be sure of, Wells offended over a period of several decades and my respect goes out to the victims and their families who were put through so much.

‘The Public Protection teams across the Met work relentlessly to identify sexual offenders and prevent any harm coming to potential victims. In cases where predators gain access to victims and carry out abuse, we are also here to ensure they face justice.’

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