Television weatherman Fred Talbot used his “boundless energy” and “extrovert personality” to help gain the affection and trust of five schoolboys he sexually abused, a jury has heard.
Talbot, 65, is said to have indecently assaulted his victims between the late 1960s and the early 1980s during his former career as a teacher.
Four of the complainants were teenage pupils at Altrincham Grammar School for Boys.
Opening the case at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court yesterday, prosecutor Neil Usher said: “The very qualities that made Fred Talbot so successful as a TV celebrity – his boundless energy, his infectious enthusiasm, his extrovert personality – helped him gain, we say, the trust of these boys.
“Trust, which the prosecution say, Mr Talbot repeatedly abused when, away from their parents on school trips organised by Mr Talbot, he sexually assaulted each of them.
“We say that when it came to teenage boys in his care, Fred Talbot was something of a chancer. One of these men who regularly and repeatedly tries it on with his intended victim as often as he can in the hope that his sexual advances will not be rejected.”
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Talbot, of Bowdon, Greater Manchester, who forecast the weather from a floating map at Liverpool’s Albert Dock for ITV’s This Morning show, denies ten counts of indecent assault.
Outlining the allegations, Mr Usher said they centred on two distinct periods of time – when Talbot was a trainee teacher in Newcastle in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and from the mid-70s to 1984 when Talbot taught in Altrincham.
The prosecutor said Talbot says nothing sexual or inappropriate occurred between himself and the Altrincham pupils, while he states that sexual activity with the complainant during his teacher training only happened when the boy turned 16.
The latter complainant said he first met Talbot when he visited his school in Gateshead and had limited life experiences.
Mr Usher said: “Meeting Mr Talbot meant he was able to go places and do things and meet people he would never have been able to had the defendant not taken him under his wing.”
Within weeks, the boy was invited to visit Talbot at his accommodation and it later led to the pair sharing a bed, with Talbot “pushing and manoeuvring himself against him” in a sexual manner, he said.
There were more overnight visits and Talbot “gained in confidence and stepped up his sexual advances”, said the prosecutor. The court heard that the complainant is clear Talbot never forced himself on him but coaxed him into letting perform sexual acts on him.
The next complainant said he was sexually assaulted in the mid-1970s on a barge during a canal trip organised by Altrincham Boys Grammar School.
The third complainant said he too was indecently assaulted in the mid-1970s by Talbot in his double bed on the barge during a weekend canal trip.
Mr Usher said: “He recalls Mr Talbot suggesting that some of the boys pretend to be girls so that they could, as he put it, have an orgy which had to be kept secret. He recalls the boys and Mr Talbot all taking their clothes off and rolling around.”
The fourth complainant said he was drinking in a pub local to Talbot when he and some of his friends were invited back to the defendant’s home.
The then-16-year-old said he went to the toilet and Talbot came up behind him and said “I can do that for you” and grabbed his penis.
The final complainant said he was aged 16 when he and a friend went to a party at Talbot’s home in Bowdon. They knocked on the door and Talbot greeted them completely naked.
Talbot went on to get dressed but during the evening indecently assaulted the youngster in his living room while the pair were alone, the court was told.
The jury heard that Talbot’s teaching career came to “an abrupt end” in 1984 following an incident involving a pupil at his home. The trial continues.
The trial continues.
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