A DRIVING instructor has been found guilty on five counts of sexually assaulting his students.

Derek Booth, 49, of Coed Mor, Pen-y-ffordd near Holywell, had faced 11 counts in total of sex attacks on five of his female students in a trial at Chester Crown Court.

The jury found Booth guilty on five counts against three of his students and not guilty on the remaining six counts. He will be sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court on Friday, October 11.

The offences took place between June 2016 and February 2018, when Booth was employed at a driving school in Ellesmere Port before being arrested.

They came to light after one of the victims broke down at work the day after taking a lesson with Booth in January 2018 and told a work colleague Booth had been messaging her for sex and “rubbed” her.

The victim’s father contacted police. Detective Constable Timothy Cope contacted Booth’s other students to determine if others had been sexually assaulted.

Four further witnesses came forward providing evidence against Booth and the jury ruled two of them had been sexually assaulted.

Prosecuting, Anna Price told the court Booth had asked the first victim – a young woman – if she was a virgin on the second lesson.

When she did not reply, he said: “I’ll take that as a yes.”

He sent her about 100 WhatsApp messages which, as well as arranging lessons, included messages such as: “You should have sex, it will boost your confidence” and “I want to be inside you”.

In the victim’s final lesson – held when the victim was upset after failing her theory test – the court heard Booth took her to a lay-by and sexually assaulted her by kissing her on the mouth without consent, as well as touching her arm and waist.

Afterwards, Booth messaged the victim asking if she enjoyed the kiss.

The jury found Booth not guilty on a more serious count, alleged to have occurred at the same time as the kissing, of attempting to cause the victim to engage in sexual activity by moving the student’s hand for her to touch his penis.

One of the other students had made a complaint to the head of the driving school.

She had described Booth as “a bit strange” on first impression and she said he had claimed he had married one of his former students.

In the three lessons she had with Booth, the jury ruled Booth had touched her twice in a sexual manner.

Before the jury retired to deliver their verdicts, Booth’s defence solicitor Nicholas Williams said it was accepted Booth had sent inappropriate messages and had accepted doing things he should not have done, things he would not have wished the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) or his wife to know, but Mr Williams said it was not sexual assault.

A number of witnesses had also given evidence to say Booth had been a “friendly”, “ace” and “professional” driving instructor when teaching them, more than one student saying Booth’s teaching “put them at ease”.

A pre-sentence report was requested for Booth, who has no previous convictions or cautions, with Judge Robert Trevor-Jones adding custody was not being ruled out.

Booth was released on conditional bail.