A FORMER teacher has been jailed for five years for five counts of indecent assault on boys under the age of 14.

Michael Cole, 45, of Gwent, Wales, had fought what was later described as 'overwhelming evidence' that he abused the pupils while employed as a teacher in Northwood between 1988-91.

But an Isleworth Crown Court jury took just 31 minutes to decide that he was lying and was found guilty of five indecent assaults.

Cole had already admitted 17 counts of making indecent images of children at the start of the trial.

A trusted and popular sports teacher, he conducted phoney ‘health checks’ at the school.

After getting the youngsters into his office on false pretences, he would tell them to strip before touching them for his sexual pleasure, the court heard.

After Cole had been sentenced, DC Andrew Hargreaves, of the MPS Child Abuse Investigation Command, said: "The evidence against Cole was overwhelming, it took the jury only 31 minutes to find him guilty.

"I would like to thank the victims for having the courage to come forward and ensure that Cole was held to account for his actions and is never placed in a position of trust again."

The trial lasted two and a half weeks and Cole was handed his prison sentence on Thursday, March 4.

The allegations emerged after three men, now in their 30s, tracked down their teacher, who also taught religious education, using social networking sites Facebook and Bebo.

But Cole claimed the boys had made up their stories, and the incidents had never happened.

Prosecutor Stephanie Dodd said during the trial that the 45-year-old not only had got one boy to strip but said Cole filmed him with a camcorder on the desk.

"You asked him to take off his clothing. You told him his Achilles injury could be caused by a weakness in his right knee, or over balancing, or even his right groin."

Cole told her: "That is completely false."

Ms Dodd continued: "And that you needed to check out his groin area, probing the area while he was stood in front of you and you were asking him to do exercises and stretches."

She told him he was looking at his body and had the school camcorder on the desk filming the boy.

Cole replied: "That’s an absolutely appalling thing to say and no, absolutely not."

An Isleworth Crown Court jury was told he made his behaviour appear normal and youngsters were unaware that what he was doing was wrong.

Cole resigned from the school in 1991 after one pupil told another teacher in a passing conversation that they had shared a shower cubicle together.