A SHAMED former governor of a Hampshire infant school is today facing jail after being found guilty of indecently assaulting three girls under the age of 14.

After nearly nine hours of deliberation a jury delivered majority verdicts against Robert Anthony Giddings, who was charged with four counts of indecent assault.

Tears could be heard from the gallery at Southampton Crown Court, as 54-year-old Giddings was found guilty of the “despicable” crimes dating back to the 1980s and 1990s when the children were as young as eight years old.

Judge Derwyn Hope told Giddings, of Wayside Road, Ringwood, he would be placed on the sex offenders’ register but gave no further indication of the punishment he would receive.

Sentencing will take place on February 11. Defending barrister David Richards said: “My client knows where he’s going to spend the next substantial period of time.”

During the trial the jury heard how former Netley Marsh Parish Council chairman and long-serving councillor Giddings had been cautioned by police 22 years ago for trying to grab a young girl.

But fresh allegations came to light in January last year when the successful businessman, who was a partner in his family firm RF Giddings, a sawmill in Netley Marsh, was arrested.

The following month he was charged and at the same time he quit his role with the council and left the family business.

The court heard from each of the three victims who are now women, who told how he touched them indecently and left them feeling “horrible” and “uncomfortable”.

After the verdict, investigating officer Detective Sergeant Dave Brunsden of Hampshire police said: “Giving evidence in court against this man was particularly difficult for these victims and I commend them for their bravery in coming forward and reporting these despicable crimes to the police.

“This ultimately led to the defendant being charged and convicted.

Although this may help in bringing some degree of closure to the victims, it is still something they will live with for the rest of their lives.”