A FORMER music teacher abused a position of trust by indecently assaulting and filming young girls, a court was told.

At Snaresbrook Crown Court today it was claimed Michael Crombie, a former music teacher at Wanstead High SChool, satisfied an alleged sexual fetish for watching women breathe underwater by filming a young girl in the bath at his Woodford Green home.

Sandy Canavan, prosecuting, told the court that Mr Crombie got the alleged victim, who he was teaching to play the recorder, into his bath by telling her holding her breath underwater would improve her breathing technique.

Miss Canavan opened the trial of the 73-year-old, of Monkhams Avenue, who has denied 28 charges of indecently assaulting nine girls aged under 16, seven charges of making indecent images of a child and one charge of possessing indecent images of a child.

Miss Canavan told the court that over the past 20 years Mr Crombie taught music to children in the Wanstead and Woodford area and gave private tuition at his home.

She said: "Parents normally want the best for their children and if they show particular talents or interests they often go out of their way to arrange extra lessons."

She said parents place a great deal of trust in the person who is teaching their child.

She told the court: "The defendant, Michael Crombie, is a former music teacher, active in the local choral scene, an elderly, trustworthy, retired, respectable man, or so he seemed.

"He took the opportunities presented to him by unsuspecting parents to indecently assault girls given into his care."

Miss Canavan told the court that in the case of the first alleged victim Mr Crombie made indecent films of the young girl "which he kept for his own purpose".

The first alleged victim was seven-years-old when she started seeing Mr Crombie for recorder lessons in 1991.

Miss Canavan said the "first few lessons were fun" but after a few weeks she claimed Mr Crombie started kissing the alleged victim on the forehead.

She said he put his hands under her clothes, on her stomach, and said he was feeling her diaphragm which would make her stronger for singing.

Miss Canavan said the alleged victim was told to call the defendant "uncle Michael" and the alleged abuse escalated over time when Mr Crombie "started to kiss her on the lips, pushing his mouth on to hers".

She claimed that Mr Crombie introduced a fish tank for the alleged victim to hold her breath in, while her head was submerged underwater, and this progressed to the alleged victim holding her breath in Mr Crombie's bath.

Miss Canavan said the alleged victim initially held her breath in the bath in a swimming costume, then in her knickers, before being persuaded she would be better off doing it wearing nothing.

She added: "He (Mr Crombie) is sexually excited by women breathing underwater."

Miss Canavan said to the jury: "You are probably listening and thinking 'that simply can't be the truth'.

"When he was arrested eight films were found and viewed by the police, they were made by Michael Crombie.

"They were of the alleged victim in various stages of undress in the bath.

"The Crown says they show the extent of the defendant's behaviour because just touching her naked was not enough."

Miss Canavan said the alleged victim felt too embarrassed to tell her parents about what was going on and she tried to back out of the lessons but her parents said the lessons were good for her.

The jury were shown one of the films which Miss Canavan described as a "highlight tape" and she said the film showed a mixture of footage of the alleged victim holding her breath underwater in Mr Crombie's bath.

Mr Crombie denies all 36 charges.

The trial continues.