Music teacher with 'underwater sexual fetish dunked naked female student in bath'
19th November 2010
A music tutor accused of satisfying his water 'fetish' by submerging a pupil underwater claimed today that the schoolgirl asked to lie naked in his bathtub.
Michael Crombie, 73, allegedly filmed himself dunking the youngster so he could watch her breathe during 'music lessons' at his home.
The former schoolmaster is said to have made eight films - including a 'highlights tape' - of the nude girl when she was aged between 10 and 12.
Crombie also posed as a woman music journalist to encourage the girl to perform the 'bubbling' exercises and bought her an underwater camera to take on holiday, it is said.
The choir leader is further charged with molesting eight other girl pupils between 1991 and 2002 during private tuition sessions in Woodford Green, Essex.
But Crombie told jurors the naked bathtub exercises had been the schoolgirl's idea after she had performed similar routines with her mother.
Crombie said the girl told him that her improving ability to blow long notes on her recorder was down to holding her breath during bath time sessions at home.
'She told me the timings that obviously her mother had done and they were figures I felt were pretty remarkable for a young girl,' Crombie told Snaresbrook Crown Court.
'I suppose I expressed some doubt about these timings.
'She said, there and then: "I will show you".'
Crombie said he told the girl that she would need a swimsuit.
'She made it quite clear to me, there was no doubt, she was not the least bit bothered about a costume,' said Crombie.
'A little girl, oh I don't know, nine or 10 [years old], she just didn't seem in the least bit concerned.
'She would have been pre-pubescent.
'I think she was not a very well developed young lady until later on.'
Crombie rejected the prosecution case that the girl started off wearing a swimsuit which he gradually urged her to take off and later go nude.
'The pictures [in his videos] of her naked were the early ones,' he said.
'I would say she started wearing a costume as she began to develop and she felt obviously more self-conscious.'
Crombie's barrister Dermot Keating put the allegation that to his client that he had bought the girl a blue bikini.
'That's not true,' said Crombie.
He denied accusations that he had groped other young pupils during piano and singing lessons in his home music studio.
Crombie said he had only placed his hands on pupils' chests and stomachs during 'breathing exercises'.
'Would there be any circumstances where you would do it under the clothing?' asked Mr Keating, to which Crombie replied: 'No.'
He admitted hosing and rubbing down a girl's muddy legs after two pupils cleared a pond at his Monkhams Avenue home in July 1997.
'It was just a natural reaction, [I said]: "Good Lord, look at you" and I sprayed the hose on her legs and rubbed off the mud,' said Crombie.
He described a special waterproof camera - for two girls to snap themselves underwater on a summer holiday - but said he could not remember if he paid for it not.
'Whether I provided it or not I cannot remember but it was a Boots cheap and cheerful underwater camera,' said Crombie.
'So no, I'm not denying that at all.'
Crombie said he began teaching music in 1959 in Somerset after graduating from Trinity College London before relocating to Beal Girls' School in Ilford, Essex, in 1967.
From there he left for Wanstead High School in 1970 before retiring 20 years later and leading adult education classes at Stoke Newington School, north London.
Crombie said in 1992 he helped form the Woodford Green-based Cantori Vocal Ensemble choir which he said had regularly featured on BBC radio.
Prosecutor Sandy Canavan has described Crombie's alleged obsession with water as a 'fetish'.
'The defendant has a fetish in this respect, in that he is sexually excited by women breathing under water,' said the barrister.
Crombie, of Woodford Green, Essex, denies 28 counts of indecent assault, seven counts of making indecent images of a child and possessing indecent images of a child.
The trial continues.