A former headteacher and town council chairman “hid behind his standing in society” as he manipulated and sexually abused a 14-year-old boy.

Keith Tait, 77, a former headteacher at an Essex school, was labelled a “monster” by his victim after a jury convicted him of historic sexual offences.

Tait, of North Mill Place, Halstead, represented the Shelley ward on Ongar Town Council for 36 years from 1977 until 2013.

Following a trial at Chelmsford Crown Court, the sexual predator was convicted of five counts of indecent assault.

Epping Forest Guardian: Keith TaitKeith Tait

The abuse was carried out against the teenager in the 1980s.

A jury deliberated for five hours before delivering majority verdicts.

The victim, who now lives in Colchester, spoke of how Tait had used his “power and influence” to try and twist the truth.

Detective Constable Martin North, who led the investigation, described Tait as “a manipulative sexual predator”.

He said: “This was a lengthy investigation and I’d like to thank the victim and the witnesses who supported it and remained patient as it progressed.

“At the time of the offences Tait was a man held in high regard in his employment as a school headmaster and in his community as councillor.

“Hiding behind his standing in society, he was in fact a very manipulative sexual predator.

“He took the opportunity to exploit a vulnerable boy over a two-year period for his own sexual gratification.”

DC North said the case showed predators like Tait are “not protected by the passing of time”.

“He only thought of himself,” he added.

“He had no regard for the lasting and damaging impact these events have had on the victim’s life.

“I’m very pleased that the jury saw through the lies Tait tried to sow and, after five hours of deliberation, they reached guilty verdicts on each of the five counts.

“I only hope this verdict gives some comfort to the victim and also shows that sex offenders are not protected by the passing of time.

“We at Essex Police will always do everything we can to prosecute and ultimately secure convictions of these offenders."

Tait will be sentenced at the same court on a date to be decided.