A PRIVATE tutor and former chairman of Ilkley Parish Council has appeared in court, charged with sexual offences against boys and making and distributing indecent photos of children.

Bespectacled and balding Heathcliffe Bowen, 49, who resigned from the parish council in March this year, made his first appearance at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court yesterday to face a total of 19 charges.

District Judge Richard Clews sent the case to the crown court.

Bowen’s solicitor, Raj Kumar, told the court his client would be pleading not guilty to the charges.

Bowen, tall and slim, who was wearing a dark grey suit, red tie and blue shirt, spoke to confirm his name, address and date of birth during the seven-minute hearing.

He is charged with three offences of making indecent photographs of a child, involving 92 photos at category C, 15 at category B and 21 at the most serious category A level.

Bowen is also charged with eight offences of distributing an indecent photograph of a child.

He is further accused of attempting to meet a boy under 16 following grooming, attempting to cause a 15-year-old child to look at an image of sexual activity, two charges of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence, and four of attempting to cause or incite boys aged 13 to 15 to engage in sexual activity.

All the allegations are said to have taken place at Bowen’s home address, in Woodlands Rise, Ilkley, at various dates between May 2013 and July 2015.

Bowen fastened a button on his jacket as he walked into the dock at the start of yesterday’s hearing.

Prosecutor Richard Davies asked for all the allegations to be heard at the crown court.

District Judge Clews told the defendant: “These allegations are too serious to be dealt with at this court. They will have to be dealt with in the crown court.”

District Judge Clews said all of the charges would be sent to Bradford Crown Court and all future hearings would take place there.

Bowen will next appear at Bradford Crown Court on November 21.

He was granted bail until that hearing, on condition that he resides at his home address, informs police of any change of address, and that he does not have unsupervised physical or internet contact with any person under 18.

Bowen, who is also a military historian, served on Ilkley Parish Council for 18 years, and was its chairman three times, until his retirement in March.

When he posted his resignation on a Facebook page at the time, he said: “I reached this difficult decision for a number of reasons, some personal, but most due to my despair with the enfeebling leadership of the Parish Council.”