A Bournemouth Scout support member has been jailed for nine years for sexually abusing boys over the last 40 years.
Paul John Cherrett, 62, was sentenced at Bournemouth Crown Court today, 11 April, after previously pleading guilty to a string of sex offences against boys.
The 62-year-old admitted 10 counts of indecent assault against boys aged under 16, three counts of inciting a child to commit an act of gross indecency and four charges of possession of indecent images of children.
He had also pleaded guilty to one count of sexual activity with a child.
Cherrett was told he would be on the Sex Offenders Register for life and would be made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
Cherrett joined the Scouting movement in 1972 when he became an Assistant Cub Scout Leader for the 21st Bournemouth Scout Group until 1977. He then moved into the Assistant District Commissioner role for the Bournemouth West District until 1988. He returned in the role of District Scout Active Support Member at Butchers Coppice Camp site in 2010.
The court heard that Cherrett’s offending came to light in 2016 when a CCTV alert was issued about unusual activity taking place in the tuck shop at the Butchers Coppice Scout Camp in Bournemouth where Cherrett was working as District Scout Active Support Member and treasurer.
There are various CCTV cameras monitoring the camp, including in the tuck shop. The camera in the shop is motion-activated and when triggered it sends an alert containing still images to a mobile phone.
One evening a senior member of the camp received a number of alerts. The CCTV images showed Cherrett acting inappropriately with a boy. He was subsequently charged with sexual activity with a child.
The court heard that due to Cherrett’s 40-year association with the Scout movement, a press release was issued by Dorset Police appealing for information from the public.
As a result of the release a further eight victims came forward and made allegations against Cherrett, the court was told.
The court heard that the offences were committed between 1975 and 2004 at Scouting locations in the Bournemouth area and at camps abroad and involved boys as young as eight. Cherrett sexually abused his victims and would force them to stand naked.
One victim told officers that the abuse had a detrimental effect on him and he had gone on to use drugs and alcohol from the age of 14 due to Cherrett’s actions.
Following Cherrett’s arrest in 2016 a number of computer items were seized from his home and examined. A total of 35 indecent images of children were found. Cherrett’s web browsing history also identified that he had searched for sites involving the terms ‘young nude’ and similarly named sites.
Sentencing Cherrett, Judge Peter Johnson said: “You committed all of these offences in breach of considerable trust placed in you. Some were committed while engaged in scouting, some on school children while you were a responsible adult, some were committed while you took a child on holiday abroad.
“Some of your victims were as young as eight or nine.
“Your offending was persistent, starting in the late 1970s and continuing until last year.
“The offences will live with your victims forever.
“The harm you caused to them is immense.
“The harm does not stop there on your victims. You also caused harm to the Scouting movement.
“These volunteers selflessly give up their time to help young people. You have let them down as well.”
Detective Constable Jonathan McKinney, of Dorset Police’s Child Abuse Investigation Team, said: “Cherrett was in a position of trust through his work with the Scouting movement. He breached that trust in the most despicable way by abusing boys that were in his care over 40 years both in the UK and abroad.
“I would like to pay tribute to those teenagers and men who have come forward and reported offences. They put their trust in Dorset Police and I hope the sentence handed out by the court today will bring them some closure and they can move forward in their lives knowing that Paul Cherrett is behind bars.
“I hope the outcome of this case will give other victims of abuse the confidence to come forward and report offences no matter when they were committed.
“I would urge anyone with additional information relating to this case to please call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.”