SURPRISED residents have spoken about a neighbour, and former music teacher, being convicted of child abuse offences.

Michael Crombie, of Monkhams Avenue, was found guilty at Snaresbrook Crown Court of 34 child abuse offences.

The former Wanstead High School music teacher is due to be sentenced on December 21 and is being held on remand.

Another former teacher at the school has claimed staff had "grave suspicions" about Crombie and rumours were "common knowledge".

Neighbours told the Guardian that Crombie's wife Norah is staying with relatives and one lady who lives opposite said Mrs Crombie would be standing by her husband.

The Woodford Green choirmaster was convicted of 26 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.

The 73-year-old inappropriately touched nine music pupils on the chest and legs while he was tutoring them at his home.

During the trial the court heard that one victim, who was eight years old when she started seeing him for lessons, was filmed holding her breath in his bath.

The jury saw footage of the youngster naked and Crombie argued holding her breath underwater was a technique to improve breathing and recorder playing and it was not his idea that she be naked in the bath.

John Dannatt, who lives near to Crombie, yards from Woodford Tube station, said: "It is difficult to relate to what you would have to call an addiction.

"It is a bit perverse because it is certainly not normal."

Mr Dannatt, 60, a former woodwork teacher and semi-retired gas engineer, said he anticipated the family home would be sold.

"I wouldn't be surprised if the house goes on the market as it might be awkward after the publicity," he said.

"Most people here are surprised about it. He came and said hello to me when I was laying my driive and he seemed pleasant enough.

"You never know what goes on behind closed doors."

Another neighbour, a woman in her 30s who would not be named, said: "It's unbelievable.

"We've heard the piano being played and singing and we've seen children being dropped off.

"Whatever sentence he gets won't be long enough."

The former teacher at Wanstead High School who spoke to the Guardian about Crombie said she was "utterly aghast" hearing about the trial.

The woman, who would not be named, taught at the school from 1991 to 2002 and arrived just after Crombie left.

She claimed Crombie was dismissed form the school and banned from the site, although it was said in court that Crombie took early retirement in 1990.

Chris Van Bussell, the current headteacher at Wanstead High School, told the Guardian it is a "shame" the school's name is connected to the case.

He said: "We know he left the school in 1990 and retired at that stage but we have no knowledge of him being banned."

Mr Van Bussell said no staff at the school now were there when Crombie was and a teacher's file is disposed of after seven years.